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Inside Straight: The Inside Story

Ed. note: This is the first installment of Inside Straight, the new in-house counsel column by Mark Herrmann, which we announced earlier this week.

On Friday, you were a litigator: You wrote briefs, argued motions, took depositions, and tried cases.

On Monday, you were a litigator: You identified loss contingencies, minimized them, quantified them, and removed them from a balance sheet.

What happened?

Don’t give me, “You died and went to Hell.”

The correct answer is, “You went in-house.”

And an in-house lawyer views things from a different perspective than an outside lawyer does.

I’ll use this column to share with you that different perspective and to discuss the distinct concerns that intrigue (or infuriate) in-house lawyers.

What exactly does that mean?

Heck if I know.

I’ll say whatever springs to mind about the concerns of in-house counsel, the mistakes outside counsel make, alternate fee arrangements, outsourcing, cronyism, and the issues du jour.

You can’t fuel a column on a blog with the few discrete ideas that you have before you write your first post; you can fuel the thing only by observing the world around you and seeing the wisdom, or humor, tucked into events.

There are surely plenty of things that happen in the lives of in-house counsel that are filled with wisdom or humor. I’ve been in-house for only ten months (after more than 25 years in private practice, the last 20 at Jones Day), and I’ve already seen first-hand (or heard from other in-house lawyers elsewhere) a bundle.

I’ve heard reactions to flat-fee billing arrangements for litigation (“I had no idea that [name of AmLaw 20 firm redacted] had that many first-year associates.”); listened to presentations at beauty contests (“If you hire me, you get one of the outstanding corporate litigators in America.”); received phone calls from old colleagues (“I know we haven’t spoken for nearly 20 years, but I thought maybe we could do some business together.”); and on and on.

Where it goes, nobody knows.

But I’m glad to join the gang here at ATL. Feel free to contact me — with questions, comments, or story suggestions — by email, at inhouse@abovethelaw.com

Earlier: Above the Law Launches a New Column for In-House Counsel


Mark Herrmann is the Vice President and Chief Counsel – Litigation at Aon, the world’s leading provider of risk management services, insurance and reinsurance brokerage, and human capital and management consulting. He is the author of The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law. You can reach him by email at inhouse@abovethelaw.com.

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