Tension can often arise between general counsel and CEOs, but it doesn’t have to be a job killer. Speaking generally, legal department veterans and industry observers say in-house leaders can avoid big problems with other executives by sticking to key guidelines, such as presenting options to the CEO and obtaining outside intelligence to support their points.

The exodus of the legal department at CPS Energy highlights what could happen when internal disagreements turn south. After battling for months litigation related to February storms that knocked out power for many in Texas, three of the utility’s top lawyers left in the last month. One of the attorney’s resignation letters referred to “certain claims lodged against the CEO,” who is Paula Gold-Williams.