How To Be Useful to In-House Counsel In Your Writing - GC Perspective

[The following inside perspective is adapted from the original by Olga Mack, Bay Area-based attorney, general counsel, startup advisor, mentor, and executive.]

Legal providers often ask me what they can do to get attention of the in-house departments and how they may be more useful to in-house counsel. Although I am not going to reveal my rankings (that would be cruel and unfortunate!)...

Here is a list of what I find helpful: 

  1. Listing three to five action items that can be completed the morning after to start mitigating risks, in a way that is easily explained to internal clients. 
  2. Creating a summary that can be easily understood by both lawyers and non-lawyers so information can be circulated easily to internal clients. 
  3. Predicting and analyzing the direction of future changes as well as what can be done now to mitigate the uncertainty. 
  4. Assessing risks in an applicable industry to provide a wider picture of the situation. 
  5. Industry-specific pragmatic advice and what can be done to address the risks in the short and long terms.

Here is a list of what I find unhelpful:

  1. Summarizing the news without any commentary is not helpful. By the time I see the alerts I’ve already read most popular newspapers and likely at least browsed the underlying decision. 
  2. Painting a doomsday future, especially during the systemic changes or catastrophe, is not helpful. Scare tactics are not actionable or productive. Really, what should I do with a “the world is ending” prediction?! 
  3. Repeating “this is not legal advice” before or after every thought is unhelpful. It also makes no sense when your audience is composed of lawyers. Attorneys and legal vendors should stand behind their advice in the same way we demand that service providers stand behind their services during contract negotiations. 
  4. Summarizing the history of a situation or decision is also not very helpful unless it somehow helps to predict the future. 
  5. Sending an alert over 24 hours after the event is definitely too late, especially if the alert contains any of the other problems I’ve listed.