Why In-House Lawyers Should Be Practical, Not Academic

By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 09, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In the movie Wonder, a child shares the wisdom of choosing between right and kind: "Choose kind."

It's a quotable precept in a story about a boy adjusting to life with a birth defect. It is worthy of repeating in any life, but with a twist for the life of in-house counsel:

When given a choice between an academic or practical approach, choose practical.

Choose Practical

Going in house requires a change in the approach to law practice. John Gilmore, writing about common mistakes of in-house counsel, says they have to give more practical advice.

"In their role of providing support to a senior partner, an academic point of view was the right product to provide," he writes. "Moving in-house, they''e expected to become far more pragmatic and learn subtle nuances to the very specific context of their employer."

Outside Counsel

It may be tempting to choose outside counsel based on your personal relationships. It is a common practice to work with people you know when you have the choice.

But a more practical decision about outside counsel would be based on the company's relationships. Law firms that have provided good service in the past may know more about the client than you do.

Project Management

Project management is not simply choosing a manager for legal projects. It's more of an approach to handling workloads and includes:

  • Planning and defining the scope of the project
  • Coordinating resources, including human, financial or technical
  • Identifying clear channels of communication
  • Monitoring the work according to the plan


Ultimately, a practical approach is one that works. And general counsel speaking, if it works, don't fix it.

Here are seven free resources online because, what could be more practical than free?

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