The Benefits of Having (and Being) an In-House Mentor

, Corporate Counsel


Even veteran lawyers can have questions when they move in-house. Having a mentor can smooth the road for new in-house lawyers—and the mentors can get a lot out of the arrangement, too.

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What's being said

  • Anonymous

    You have to have guts, true, but unless a criminal law is in question, I try to leave business people the freedom to make mistakes. These are the people who have been entrusted by their boss to do something. Unless and until they are relieved of their responsibilities, I don't believe in substituting my judgment for theirs. Virtually everything legal is a risk/reward decision. If they are so green and inexperienced that I feel like I need to tell them what to do, I will. But then they are still free to screw up. If you have enough stature in the organization, making a firm 'recommendation' can really have a lot of influence.

  • joseph dreitler

    Nice list, but he left one "B" out. It's called, er, ...guts. In house lawyers should bring a legal perspective to an organization. They are not marketing experts, finance experts... or cheerleaders. Toughest thing a lawyer can tell in house client is "no, you shouldn't do that because here is what will likely happen to the company". 30 years ago the best in house lawyer I ever worked for told the board of a Fortune 50 company that and ended with, "but if you want to go ahead, it's a business decision and your call, and I will resign and go back into private practice". Doubt he would last in today's business world where GC's are part of "management team", but then he never made anything close to a million in compensation. My view has always been that I am being hired by the corporation (not a CEO) to advise it how to stay out of trouble, not reflexively say "we can do that chief". Of course, that's why after 17 years in house I have been an out house lawyer for 17 years.

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