It’s a Partnership: Corporate Counsel and Business Team

It’s a Partnership: Corporate Counsel and Business Team

In-house counsel’s role continues to evolve within many corporations. Increasingly, counsel is regarded not only as an advisor, but also as a partner that’s integral in the growth of a business. What actions and approaches should counsel take to best meet this new role? Big Law Business reported on insight from Whitney Hudak, corporate and commercial counsel at Lyft.

To begin, Hudak recommends that in-house counsel know the corporation’s business inside and out, and also learn what the company’s long-term goals are. Counsel’s role is to provide legal support and legal guidance for these goals. It’s important that counsel can clearly convey why the company should want to avoid legal pitfalls. When shaping the approach to conveying risk, it can help counsel to know where the company and even particular departments stand on risk.

Hudak advises that counsel avoid giving the firm “No” and discussing why the exposure is too high. Instead, she says, it’s about presenting the risk and the low, medium and high ways to approach it according to their risk tolerance. Bottom line, per Hudak:

“It’s about communicating guidance in a way that is truly palatable to your internal business partner and providing them with actionable takeaways so that you’re not just speaking in legalese, but understandably in a way that makes sense to them.”

Although tech startups often only prioritize hiring product and sales teams when they launch, Hudak also underscored the long-term benefits of hiring a general counsel early in the life of the company.

For related insights, see our previous blog: New CLO in the Driver’s Seat at Uber.

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