Legal counsel, also called in-house counsel, is the lawyer who provides legal advice and representation to a corporation. They are responsible for ensuring that the company complies with legal obligations and avoids legal risks. However, legal counsel also has other lesser-known responsibilities that play a significant role in the success of the company.
One of the lesser-known responsibilities of legal counsel is to act as the company’s “conscience.” Though not a formal role, legal counsel is often viewed as the voice of morality within a company. They are responsible for ensuring that the company’s conduct aligns with its values and goals. Legal counsel may have to challenge the company’s decisions or actions that could harm its reputation or lead to legal consequences.
Legal counsel is also responsible for managing the legal budget. Legal matters can be costly, and it is essential to manage the expenses associated with legal representation fully. Legal counsel should explore various methods of billing, negotiate fees, and decide which matters are worth pursuing in court, mediation, or arbitration. They must also allocate resources effectively, balancing the company’s needs and priorities with the available funding.
Legal counsel should also ensure that the company has proper governance policies in place. These policies may include guidelines for financial reporting, environmental protection, and employee relations. Additionally, legal counsel should develop a crisis management plan in the event of litigation or other emergencies that might arise.
Legal counsel has a vital role in training employees on legal risks and compliance issues. They should ensure that the personnel understands the legal ramifications of their actions and decisions and how their actions could affect the company. Training employees on legal compliance reduces the chances of legal disputes and enables them to recognize risks and respond appropriately.
In conclusion, the responsibilities of legal counsel are not limited to providing legal advice and representation to a company. They are also responsible for acting as a conscience, managing the legal budget, developing governance policies, crisis management, and training employees on legal compliance. Legal counsel must play a more proactive and strategic role within the organization, rather than being viewed as simply a support function. When legal counsel is fully integrated into the organization, they can become valuable partners in achieving the company’s goals and objectives.