What should the in-house lawyer’s role be?
Is it limited to legal analysis, or is there something more?
For example, a contract is submitted for review that the lawyer thinks makes little or no sense for the Company to pursue. Or something is written for a publication that isn’t illegal or defamatory, but could hurt the community and the Company.
Does the lawyer’s job end with simply reviewing the contract or vetting the content?
I don’t think so.
Lawyers are highly-educated business partners who have advice to offer that could help the Company. Lawyers shouldn’t feel restricted from speaking up because the issue is outside of a traditional “legal” role in the Company.
A lawyer should feel empowered to voice her opinions just as the opinions of an intelligent, thinking individual who wants what’s best for the Company.
My advice to in-house lawyers: offer opinions with the caveat that “this is not a legal issue…”, but don’t keep your insights to yourself.
In an industry that needs so much disruption, new thinking and new approaches, people have to be encouraged to speak up and contribute when they have ideas- even if the ideas fall outside of a traditional job description. In an industry where resources are constrained, we have to be able to tap the resources we have and empower the people we have to participate in the growth of the Company in whatever way they can. I firmly believe that people want to participate, they just have to feel that they are able and encouraged to do so. In this time of change and disruption, we can’t leave any of our resources on the bench. We need all of the new thinking and input we can get- especially when it comes from unexpected places.