An Outside Perspective on In-House Counsel

By Neetal Parekh on September 23, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Bright, talented, multitasking PR superstars...and that's just how in-house counsel describe themselves.  But how do others in the industry view their corporate counterparts?  New York criminal defense attorney, Scott Greenfield, lent his interesting perspective after attending a massive gathering of in-house counsel held in Chicago earlier in the summer, in his blog titled Simple Justice

His post, "Partying In House, or Why General Counsel Aren't Like Us," is a humorous review after spending three days with "brethren whose life is spent behind desks rather than in the well." 

What did his encounter reveal?  Here are a few of his choice observations.

  • "Who are you with"?"...."Everybody is with 'somebody'.  The idea that you weren't with 'somebody' was as foreign, as well, not wearing a pinstripe suit."
  • "Unlike trench lawyers, [in-house attorneys] were inclined to be agreeable, to follow instructions, and to be on time and prepared."
  • "Contrary to popular belief, [in-house lawyers] don't wear Grateful Dead t-shirts when they are amongst their own...These are guys that show up in a pin-striped suit when no one makes them."
  • "The in-house guys were not merely friendly, but exceptionally smart and savvy within the confines of their niche."

The in-house position is a unique space within the legal spectrum.  The legal department is the standing army of a company, ready to defend executives, steer the company from potential liability, peace keep, and ally with outside battalions to get a job done.

Whether or not his observations change the way you view yourself as an in-house attorney, they nonetheless offer interesting perspective.  So now you can add "well-dressed" to your self-description of in-house practitioners...and, okay, sure,  go ahead and tack on "smart" and "savvy" too. 

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