….describe themselves at a dinner party as “I am a businessman/woman/leader/etc.” first rather than “I’m a lawyer”? Zero hands went up. And so it should be. The fact is that the role of in-house lawyers is still fudged; no sooner had we heard form the plenary panel, consisting it seems to me mainly of a top cadre of lawyers who are also natural business leaders, that in-house counsel must be business leaders “who happen to be lawyers” – a clarion call which did not quiet ring through with a straw poll of rank and file delegates. Later in the day we constantly heard speakers use the “the b phrase” I.e. “the business” as if somehow their salaries were paid by magic from some remote and distant body; worse the “bp phrase” was used, I.e. “business partner”. Unless in-house counsel want to go down the cul de sac which is, sadly and not of their making, the lot of a substantial segment of HR – they might consider that the only time the phrase “business partner” should be used properly is when you invest money in a business, with a partner. Otherwise it can sound like a support function struggling for an identity. In-house counsel should not and does not have to apologise for itself; but I sense a lack of confidence in some lawyers in asserting themselves within the business”. I now believe (and I have changed my mind having spent the last four years working with lawyers) that in-house can never fully, because of their “cop role”, become part of “the business” but must become a business within a business delivering excellent counsel and legal process which adds value to the business in return for cash and “soft” benefits. I am submitting a paper on this to the ACC and will publish it here also.
…Key issues for in-house counsel were surfaced including the need for business leaders who happen to be lawyers rather than lawyers who happen to work in a business. I’m not sure this tension had been resolved yet and I’m looking forward to hearing more at this two day conference in London.
…this offsite workshop is spread over four days and my objective is to create an environment in which each attendee can afterwards achieve a small change in behaviour. In aggregate I believe these changes will have an impact greater than the sum of the individual changes.
…the charity’s CEO Peter Sheridan gave a very good speech indeed. CoOperation Ireland Legal Dinner