Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Corporate Counsel

Sometimes it may seem the relationship between in-house counsel and their outside counterparts can be as tumultuous as an episode of “The Bachelor,” but according to Lindsay Griffiths of the International Lawyers Network, that’s starting to change.

She comments on a recent panel of both in-house and firm lawyers, which she describes as “a fascinating look at the push and pull of their relationships.” Here are some of her observations:

  • Share the management of legal fees: Panelists noted that getting billing information to clients early is becoming increasingly important, though in-house counsel said it should still fall to the firms to monitor costs effectively.
  • Understand the business of both sides: Griffiths says it’s now important not only for outside counsel to understand their clients’ businesses, but for the clients to understand how firms operate as well. The panel used the example of a patent prosecution for a large pharmaceutical company. Both the law firm and the company worked together to establish a budget and the protocol to follow if a case needed to deviate from it. Using this approach, both teams worked together to share the risk.
  • Focus on fees: From bidding on work to arranging fixed fees, inside counsel are interested in getting the most bang for their bucks. “Inside counsel are paid, on average, a third less than outside counsel. That needs to be an element in many of the decisions that are made when deciding where to send work,” says Griffiths.