Does your lawyer have your back?


Byline: BridgeTower Media Newswires

By Mischa M. Boardman

"Hey, I've got your back!"

It's a popular phrase that permeates our culture. We often hear this expression spoken between friends, business partners, and teammates. But where does that term come from and why does it matter in your relationship with outside counsel? Answering the five questions below will help you determine whether you have the right relationship with your outside counsel.

What does it mean to have someone's back? In ancient times, trusted warriors often fought with their backs to one another. When soldiers were surrounded in the heat and frenzy of battle, they would team up and literally stand back to back. By positioning themselves in this way, one fighter could cover his partner's blind side, knowing that he was protected as well. The unit of two became stronger than the individual fighters.

In today's world, the practice of law can often feel like a battle. Although lives aren't usually at stake and not every lawsuit is a "bet the company" situation, your legal advice to senior management can often affect the health of the business. As an in-house lawyer, the litigation, transactional, and regulatory compliance matters you manage are integral to your company's operations and growth. As such, you need outside counsel whom you can trust someone who bravely strides into battle with you. Whether you're in the c-suite, the boardroom, or the courtroom, you need a lawyer who always makes your fight her fight.

Like an ancient warrior, your lawyer should have your back. If she doesn't, you need to make a change. Here are five questions to determine whether you have the right outside counsel on your team.

Does my attorney know my business and understand my objectives?

You and your attorney must be on the same page and fighting to achieve the same goal. It's crucial that your attorney has forged a close relationship with you and with your business. You should expect your attorney to fully understand the nature of the company's interests and goals, and perhaps even more important, its internal operations and where you fit into the mix. Outside counsel should understand the organization's objectives on a macro and micro level. There is no way that she can give effective advice without fully embracing the company's goals. If your attorney isn't asking the types of questions necessary to accomplish this, there is no way for you to trust that she has your back.

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