Working with MyCompany PLC – a charter for external counsel

This guide is not a replacement for our retainer letter.  It does not form part of our legal relationship.  Instead it sets out guidance on what I think characterises good external counsel so that our working relationship can be as successful as possible. Time, cost, quality. These three characteristics of a project, (originally time, cost,… More


A framework for legal issue management (2) – the three categories. By Jonathan Smith

Handling the business as usual.  The “business as usual” (BAU) category of activity covers those activities which represent the organisation’s purpose, as distinct from those activities which are necessary for but incidental to those purposes.  So in the case of a retailer, the purchase and resale of goods, and in the case of a bank,… More


A framework for legal issue management by Jonathan Smith – introduction.

Lawyers executing management roles – as General Counsel, Head of Legal or head of a department or division – have no shortage of advice available to them, especially when starting out in a new role.  Some of this advice will come from former or new colleagues; some from law firms; and some from legal writers… More


Products in Development

We spend a long time at work, and longer still if we include the time we spend thinking about work and our role in it, including what role or job we might seek next.  But the amount of time we spend considering what skills or know-how we need to acquire or develop in order to… More


Profit and Loss

Avid readers of the English legal press may recently have seen a lot of agitation about an international law firm, Dentons, and one of the commonly seen measures of law firm financial performance, PEP (profit per equity partner – in the USA, PPP). The agitation concerned Dentons’ refusal to provide an American legal magazine, American… More


There but for the grace of God…

There but for the grace of God… Over the last few weeks we have been able to read the judicial and regulatory consequences of lawyers behaving badly.  Not badly in the sense of running off with client funds, nor badly in the sense of giving negligent advice badly, but losing their sense of professional obligation… More


Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck

“A general counsel should never talk like a lawyer, or think like one.”  I came across a debate on this statement on Twitter a little while back. One of the more perceptive responses to the Twitter discussion came from UCL’s Professor Richard Moorhead, who queried what would become of a profession “… if being effective… More


Being a good client

There seems always to be an awful lot of (often awful) discussion about the engagement of external law firms by in-house teams. Most of it concerns the charging model adopted by law firms. However, rather than contributing yet another piece on the iniquities and inefficiencies of the hourly rate, the mythology of alternative fee arrangements… More


When enough is enough

It’s not our fault, it’s the way we’re trained. Or at least it’s tempting to see it that way. The typical training process for a lawyer includes the “beasting”; having their documents savaged by a partner and rewritten several times until they are free from blemish, even blemishes invented by the partner for the purpose.… More


Alchemy on the banks of the Cam

This is a tale of alchemy practised in Cambridge’s sylvan groves of academe, but first, let me take you to a nearby pub on the banks of the River Cam. In a corner of a bar stands a former soldier who is now an MP, who is with the Chef de Mission for the UK… More