….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.