General counsels routinely take part in the hiring process for new employees. Often, the new employees are junior attorneys in the company. It is the role of the general counsel to prepare these individuals to carry out the responsibilities of their jobs. LawTrades offers you personalized information with its free question service. If you need more information, take advantage of LawTrades’ other resources.
Make certain your counsel understands the expectations of the job.
Make certain your attorneys have the resources they need.
Make certain your counsel understands who has decision-making authority.
Ensure training on the current state of legal affairs.
Integrate your counsel into the company network.
Discussed below are numerous tips to facilitate the general counsel in her responsibilities.
Understand the Expectations of the Job
When you are hiring a new in-house counsel, you cannot assume that she understands the role that she will play in the company and the company’s expectations of her. All too often, businesses hire in-house counsel from large law firms with a focus on representing similar companies. It is not necessarily true that the counsel fully understands the role of the in-house counsel as advisor, service provider, and professional face of the company for legal matters. While you should attempt to avoid appearing patronizing, it would be beneficial to walk the new counsel through a very thorough explanation of what will be expected of her. The training should include explanations of the various areas of law and the role of in-house counsel regarding these legal matters.
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Provide the Resources They Need
In-house counsel is charged with working in a variety of legal areas. In-house counsel will need the resources to perform these functions effectively. For example, the myriad work requires a general understanding of an incredible broad base of law. As such, the general counsel will have to regularly conduct extensive research to become familiar with distinct areas of law as well as to stay apprised of new and changing legal standards. The most common way for lawyers to conduct research is through legal databases, such as WestLaw or LexisNexus. Such databases can be very expensive and require routine training sessions. Other examples of resources needed by an in-house counsel might include computer equipment, legal software, research assistants, or continued legal education.
Understand Who has Decision-making Authority
As discussed, a primary role of in-house counsel is to provide research and advise to individuals in the company. It is important for a new in-house counsel to know who are the decision makers and influencers within the company. Recommendations or legal explanations made to the wrong person may be useless or inefficient when another individual is the decision maker and in greater need of the legal knowledge conveyed by the in-house counsel. As such, making certain a new counsel understands the company hierarchy and authority structure is important.
Current State of Legal Affairs
A company in need of an in-house legal counsel is likely experiencing a significant demand for legal services. Many of the legal issues facing the company will be subject to a significant backstory. It is important to do more than simply inform a new in-house counsel of the legal actions currently relevant to the company. The new counsel should be apprised of the history by the legal issue and its evaluation to the current state. Ensuring this level of continuity will greatly aid the new house in quickly understanding the state of all legal affairs in the company.
In-house counsel is often thrown into a massive organization and asked to effectively serve a client made up of anywhere from a few to thousands of individuals. As such, it is important for the new counsel to be informed of the company structure and to be introduced to individuals throughout. Establishing a network throughout the company will greatly facilitate the new counsel when it is necessary to find information. Further, if these individuals make up the client based for the new counsel, she should be familiar with whom she is working.
Incentivize the Employee Property
A general counsel who oversees other counsel must be more that a good attorney — she must be a good manager and leader. Managers arrange and appropriately allocate resources. Leaders inspire and motivate individuals in a desired direction. A new employee may be easy to motivate in her position. The information and requirements are new and demand a great deal of concentration and effort. Nonetheless, this is the best time to identify the aspects of employment that most motivate the new counsel. If she needs autonomy or extensive oversight, it may require a shift in work structure. If she requires recognition for her work or prefers to be anonymous, it may require new paradigms for work completion to facilitate her desires. Understanding the needs and wants of any new employee is important for a good manager.