Cop, Counsel, or Entrepreneur: which kind of In-house counsel are you?

published on General Counsel

As the theory goes, the grander your job title sounds, the higher the level of interaction within the organization and expertise within a given area. Unfortunately, this theory doesn’t play out in real life because the business world is constantly evolving. In-house counsel must understand the roles they aspire to have or currently fill, and not assume that their roles will expand with each promotion. These developments were documented in the research of Robert Nelson and Laura Beth Nielson in their article, “Cops, Counsel and Entrepreneurs: Constructing the Role of Inside Counsel in Large Corporations.” The authors found that all in-house counsel fit into one of the three roles. Which one do you take on and how does your role determine how you use Legisway?

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Cops:

You are the gatekeeper of the organization. You are primarily concerned with monitoring the conduct of your organization. Most of your time is spent approving contracts, and imposing and implementing compliance programs. You tend to act as the corporate conscience of the organization, dispensing advice strictly according to legal and policy requirements. Because your role within the organization is strongly defined, work tends to be predictable but also less stressful.

In Legisway, you mostly use the contract management module to create, approve and manage all contracts within your organization. You are able to determine how many contracts your company has, the value of those contracts and the responsible party, with just a few clicks. You make use of the compliance management module to store all company policies in one place in order help your organization and colleagues navigate the complex waters known as regulatory compliance. By monitoring the calendar you ensure that your organization is aware of a deadline well ahead of time to avoid any expensive regulatory penalties.

Counsel:

This is the role that most members of the in-house legal department play. You give legal advice and justify your reasoning based on legal knowledge. Your relationship with management provides you with the opportunity to make suggestions based on business, ethical and situational concerns. No day at work is the same, because you are confronted with interesting and evolving issues.

When you use Legisway you are primarily concerned with assessing your organization’s legal risks so you can make suggestions to management about how to mitigate them. In order to ensure you have a comprehensive overview of your organization’s risks, you make use of the extensive reporting capabilities, which help you to make informed decisions.

Entrepreneur:

This role is not a fixed choice but evolves according to the needs of the business. You market the legal functions to other business divisions inside your organization, but evolve according to the needs your organization faces. When employees come to you looking for advice, you offer them words of wisdom based on economic, managerial and legal matters. You are considered a profit center, and you enjoy seeing your efforts being translated into specific entries on financial statements.

You enjoy having a higher level overview in Legisway of everything that is going on with regard to legal and financial issues in your organization. You appreciate that Legisway has automated workflows for standard legal and corporate processes so you can focus your time on increasing the organization’s profitability.

Takeaway:

As members of the corporate legal department, you must know the roles you are expected to play and determine which one is the right choice for you. Today’s in-house legal counsel are seen as key decision-makers have an integral role within the organization. Seeing which role is the right fit requires understanding the advantages and limitations of the different roles you play.