In your role as in-house counsel, are you primarily a lawyer or primarily a business person?

I asked this question at a workshop I led for The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) last month.

Some bristled initially at the question. It seemed they felt that the answer was obvious: lawyers first, no question. But as the debate developed it became clear that old certainties are changing.

My challenge was: If you take the “corporate shilling”, do you not have a duty to help grow the business first, within the law, like every other employee? There was again some initial pushback on this and, it seemed to me, genuine discomfort at the dichotomy of gamekeeper versus poacher, as they might see it.

My view is that in-house counsel and the business are better served if they join the management team fully, just as the CFO does. He or she has to be as much of “a cop” as in-house counsel.

What do you think?  Please join the debate by posting your comments below.

You might also like to watch my video interview with Paul Gilbert, CEO LBC Wise Counsel where I discuss these issues in more detail.

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