In-house lawyers push for closer ties with advisers

At an in-house lawyeronly session at The Lawyer Summit 2009 in Barcelona last week, the delegates voiced opposition to the slash-and-burn procurement model and argued that both sides should look past fee rates when analysing the relationship between internal and external counsel. “We have to talk about value-add,” said William Grant & Sons general counsel Eva Bishop, “but do we understand clearly what the value is that a law firm can create, and what we need to do as well to create it?”

Launching a discussion on how in-house lawyers can contribute to the added value proposition, Bishop continued: “We offer [law firms] our budget to spend and interesting legal work. But what else could we offer? Can we help them open an office somewhere, or offer work experience to trainees?

What makes us unique?” QVC general counsel Amber Blake suggested that in-house lawyers should mesh their companies’ own networks with those of private practice firms for mutual benefit. “My business has a lot of entrepreneurs approaching it with ideas.

My law firms have a lot of entrepreneur clients. Why not have a joint event where they meet?” said Blake. “That way I’m not just an in-house lawyer anymore, but have something of value to offer, and to my own organisation too.”