10 Commandments for Your In-House Legal Department for even the smallest of organizations.
While technical skill is important in selecting your companies’ representative/Director of Legal Affairs, in most cases there will be a number who can do the work. So how to stand out?
1 We engage to understand your business and goals
This is the most important. It's all very well to be able to recite the law, but unless we can make it relevant to your business, we're wasting your time and money. We are active listeners to ensure we understand your goals – You may not be a subject expert and may not have asked the right questions.
2 We will strive to communicate clearly
Being concise. Thinking Powerpoint, not Word. Giving you summaries you can understand at a glance, and that answers your questions. Providing you with something you can hand straight to your senior management without having to translate it. Unless you ask for it, we won’t give you 60 pages of analysis of cases and legal theory – You can safely assume we know our stuff.
3 Make a call
We won’t tell you “on the one hand this, on the other hand that”. Our judgment and ability to make the right call is what you are paying for, and is what makes a really good firm stand out from a merely competent one.
4 We’re practical and open to challenging our conclusions
We’re not saying we’ll roll over and change our recommendations because you don't like them. We are saying we won’t be dogmatic, and we’ll work with you to find practical solutions for addressing the issues.
5 Being forthright
We tell you what you need to hear, not what we think you want to hear. If you have asked us to do something stupid, we’ll tell you (politely). If I think you don't have a leg to stand on, we’ll tell you - even if we could make a lot of fees running it. We hope you will respect us for it and use us the next time you have concerns.
6 No surprises
There are many examples of this, but the same principle, eg:
- We’ll let you know up-front if we think there might be an issue – we won’t wait until we have a fully polished recommendation. Better minor embarrassment if it turns out ok, than you finding out there is a big problem which we sat on for a week.
- We are realistic with our timing and fee estimates, and won’t promise something we can’t deliver. When we commit to a time or cost, we stick to it. If we can’t, we let you know (and why) as soon as possible – we don’t just let the deadline pass. We’ll tell you when our WIP is at 50% and at 80% of our estimate - not at 120%.
7 Keep calm and carry on
Especially if you are freaking out. This is critical if your company is in trouble. A cool, clinical level-head in this context will calm the situation down, produce better outcomes, and make you grateful for life. We want to be the people that help you in the future.
8 We think long term client relationships, and invest in them
We might be able to make more money today by milking a matter - but you won’t use us next time. We consider what we can do to 'add value' - give you a heads-up about a development that could impact your business, call you for a cup of coffee to talk about how business is going, making ourselves available to take brief calls to bounce around issues without charging you – hoping that the next time you have a matter you will think of us.
9 Respect your rules
If you say “don't take instructions from your internal clients unless we come through you”, then we don't do it. If you say “bill every month”, then we do it.
10 Be ethical
We could ruin your business as well as ours if we are not. At a lesser level, 'point scoring' and taking unreasonable positions in a commercial negotiation may make us feel big, but it is not in your interest as it rarely helps parties reach a practical, commercial outcome.
Furthermore, while not a “commandment” – we do our best to be pleasant and be ourselves. We know you can smell used-car salesmen types a mile off. We would guess that If you had a choice of being locked up for months on a matter with someone you like and someone you didn't, we know which you’d pick.
Finally, M & A Legal Management strives to provide the best in quality consulting for you and your business at all levels of service and all sizes of businesses.
M & A Legal Management
6655 W. Sahara Ave. Ste. B200
Las Vegas, Nevada 89146
(702) 706-8855, (310) 499-4447
Toll Free (888) 449-5841
(With Offices and affiliates in Beverly Hills, California* Shanghai, & Xiamen China* Paris, France)