For our latest installment, we spoke with a general counsel who works closely with outside counsel.  We wanted to know, 

What is your preference for how a lawyer tries to learn more about you and your business?"

She told us that

In working with outside counsel, I encourage them to learn as much as possible about our business so they have context to give advice. The best lawyers ask thoughtful questions that invite us to give context and details, "Tell me how you would typically . . ."; "how would this scenario arise again, or how has it come up in the past." If the advice we get is not given in context, it will not be very practical."

These are some excellent points for outside counsel to keep in mind:

  • Do your due diligence: It’s not just enough to be an expert in an area of the law, you also need to be an expert on your client. Start with doing your background due diligence – research the company, review their website, review their LinkedIn profile, set up Google alerts to stay up to date on their latest news, etc. But also importantly…
     
  • Talk to them: As we often say, there are no "one size fits all" solutions – there are only "one size fits one." So if you want to understand your client’s business, don’t just research them…ask them!
  • Don’t assume: The last comment by our GC interviewee here is very telling: "If the advice we get is not given in context, it will not be very practical." If she’s making this comment, it means that this scenario has happened before. So never assume that you know the client’s context – ASK them.

A big thank you to our general counsel for her comments and insight!