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Published 1 June 2016
Once when working as a Chief Legal Officer I was having one of those days.
Actually, I was trying to put right something my predecessor had done. I needed to find the document he had worked on to assess what our rights over something were. The document was nowhere to be seen.
I could, of course, have tried to contact him. However, he had left the building rather abruptly to – how do they refer to it?- pursue other opportunities (you should interpret 'opportunities' loosely here!). Not a problem I thought – I will just contact our external lawyers.
The partner concerned came back almost immediately (for once!) "I am rather busy at present. Is it really that important?" It was, but clearly the relationship the partner had with my company wasn’t. I tactfully re-introduced myself to him as 'his client' and for good measure I cc’d in my CEO.
The document miraculously and immediately appeared. Shortly after, that particular firm's lucrative relationship with my company unmiraculously disappeared.
I tell you this slightly tongue-in-cheek story because it still amazes me how many external firms do not really understand what in-house counsel expect from their legal panel and the relationship – and it is a relationship – they need to build and maintain with their corporate client.
So here are my brief tips for a successful and happy relationship with your clients!
Ian’s background is as a lawyer and he has been the Chief Legal Officer/Company Secretary for both listed and major private companies. This has led him to developing an expertise in corporate governance and working with boards on effectiveness and performance. He also coaches executives on improving their performance and developing their careers.
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