In-house Counsel

Why Large Firms Increasingly Use In-House Ethics Counsel
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Firms increasingly use in-house counsel to consider malpractice

Summary: Large firms are increasingly using in-house ethics counselors for resolving malpractice concerns.

Considering how sticky it can get in large firms when lawyers want to question the ethics of a senior associate, many may feel it is best not to rock the boat or put their neck out. Other lawyers may fear losing clients though ethics issues are being raised. This is why so many firms have created an in-house ethics counsel. This is usually one person who is a go-to for partners who wish to establish if any malpractice is being done. The position of “general counsel of the law firm” lets firms have the freedom to question their own ethics and relations with clients, and, in a five-year study of various firms who have such an apparatus, firms saved around a million dollars on malpractice suits.

  
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Having an in-house lawyer beats using outside general counsel as it is less expensive. Yet it gives the lawyers involved an objective “outsider” to their situation, so that they can determine if the issue must be taken into the hands of partners higher up.

A 2005 survey of the 197 largest law firms reported that 70 percent had such an in-house counsel, up from 63 percent the year before, and it’s saving the firms money and giving lawyers ease in easing their conscience on clearing up ethics questions.

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