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Abrams: For the in-house attorneys

December 31, 2014

jeff abrams ibaI recently led a panel discussion among three in-house attorneys, J. Scott Enright with Emmis Communications, Ann Dee with Duke Realty and Chad Pryor with HighPoint Global. The panel was convened in coordination with a corporate counsel survey conducted by the Indiana Lawyer and co-sponsored by Benesch. We asked numerous questions of in-house attorneys relating to their everyday life in management of in-house firms. There were a lot of interesting responses provided by counsel as well as engaging discussions with the three panelists and other attorneys who came to hear the information.

I know that the Membership Committee of the IndyBar will be working toward expanding in-house counsel membership and developing resources and information available to these members that should benefit them in their everyday practice. So why should in-house attorneys consider expanding their involvement with the IndyBar?

One of the discussion points was the need for in-house legal departments to participate with the strategic business decisions being made by the company. Convening in-house attorneys to discuss these types of issues was easily ascertainable in the panel discussion as well as through some of the questions that were raised from the attendees. Being able to access fellow in-house attorneys to discuss prior experiences may be beneficial, particularly to the younger in-house attorneys who have not had as much experience in the practice of law. Hanging out with the IndyBar might get you access to this valuable information.

Another topic discussed was how in-house attorneys select outside counsel. Several reasons were given, but some of the primary ones were expertise in a particular area and relationship with the attorney. What better way to understand the skill sets of IndyBar attorneys than to spend time with them at section meetings, monthly lunches and, of course, the Bench Bar Conference, where several hundred attorneys gather, including a significant number of judges from central Indiana. John Trimble, our soon to be president, is focusing on expanding the list of judges to attend Bench Bar. The opportunities to listen to these judges in a focus session or spend a little time discussing topics during free time are invaluable. Not only is it beneficial to the practicing litigator, but it has to be valuable to the in-house attorneys as they evaluate outside counsel and their case in court should they find themselves in that situation.

In 2015, in-house attorneys should look for the invitations to participate with the IndyBar and the in-house group. I am sure it will be worth your while and help you further the successes of your in-house legal department and the business managers with whom you work.•

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