In-house counsel, who is your client? It’s the organization. That’s an easy one, right? It may be easy in theory, but it’s not always so straightforward in practice.

Jonathan Hawkins Jonathan Hawkins

A corporate organization necessarily acts through its people, and, unlike outside counsel, in-house lawyers spend most of their days working closely with those people. That proximity can increase in-house counsel’s effectiveness and make work more enjoyable, but it can also lead to trouble. An organization’s owners, officers and employees (and sometimes the lawyer) may not fully appreciate exactly who it is the in-house lawyer represents. At some point, the interests of the organization and its constituents may diverge, causing one or more conflicts. To add to the complexity, many organizations have affiliate or subsidiary entities that have their own (and different) constituents.

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