In recent years, the corporate perception of the role and function of in-house counsel has changed, and corporate law practice has been transformed from a relatively unchallenging, mundane existence, limited to "managing" legal work done by others, to a dynamic, challenging role that involves rendering legal advice on matters in virtually every area of the law and participating directly in management decision making on those matters.
There are essentially three levels at which a corporate legal department may handle individual legal issues confronting the corporation. The first is to have in-house counsel serve primarily as a contact point between management and outside counsel. Under this arrangement, the company's own lawyers seldom participate in ascertaining the merits of, or solutions to, legal problems. They simply determine which outside counsel are best suited to handle the problem and then manage that firm's representation. The second is to rely exclusively on in-house counsel for legal advice or representation in legal proceedings. Finally, a hybrid of these two approaches maybe applied to a particular legal issue.
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