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Home > Country profiles > India > Articles > Article detail

Dealing With Bad Connections, Inside-Out and Outside-In

Sunday, 17th July 2017

"In our respective professional lives, each of us have had a fair experience of the approach that advocates have towards in-house counsels and vice-versa. In considering the relationship between these ‘two’ groups of legal professionals, the field of alternative dispute resolution or ADR is a large ground which occasions the interaction between the insider and the outsider. We have seen how ‘the approach’ unties good practice and good relations between the two groups when inherent biases manifest themselves.  We, as trained professionals in mediation and negotiation, are well aware of the principles and techniques involved in bridging the gaps. An application of these fine principles to the divide between the insiders and outsiders, we thought, could draw an interesting dialogue between us – one on one, across the table, thrashing out predispositions that come from each side against the other – with Tanima coming to the fore through her in-house perspective, and Gracious from the other end with his standpoint as an advocate.


We commissioned ourselves to respond to four basic complications about the broken connection between the two groups that arise in the ‘way in which corporate counsel and outside counsel can work together more efficiently and effectively in an ADR proceeding’. Our responses come through the lenses of our training; our interaction and exchange with peers and seniors; perceived behaviour and attitude of others in the profession, and of course, our personal experience. Putting these prejudices one against the other, we felt that these complications, like the proverbial elephant in the room, muster a huge interference with the ‘inside-outside’ connection. It compelled us to try to understand the undergirding signs which create these disturbances and draw some conclusions about the best way forward that would fully support ADR proceedings in an efficient and effective way. Here’s turning to an interesting dialogue between a corporate counsel and an advocate expressing the stereotypes of their respective occupations pitted against each other.

‘Tuning into the Right Channel’ 

Inside Counsel: “There always seems to be a viewpoint that advocates share about corporate counsels being ‘inferior’. Many outside counsels regard in-house counsels as nothing more than a client, and not a co-counsel. It is offensive and unfair.”

Outside Counsel: “A typical engagement between corporate counsels and advocates often circles around on the advocate’s billable hours; the number of associates he can and cannot engage; unreasonable demand for results, and panic over updates, as if these details will solve the problem. It is overwhelming and heavy-handed.” 

Effective communication leads to a clear understanding –

The position occupied by an in-house counsel is that of a member of the corporation. Their job description requires them to represent the management's point of view – its corporate goals and business policies. However, this strong connection in the corporate hierarchy doesn’t correspond with solid ties between the in-house team and the advocate. These channels are, generally, not tuned to the right frequency. As a result, practitioners work very hard, and at times, a fair amount of it has nothing to do with what the client really needs. The problem and the underlying needs remain baffling until advocates get closer to understanding the client, their business, and needs, through the medium of the in-house team. This is hazardous and detrimental to the overall dispute resolution process. It is important for both counsels to keep aside their respective hats and understand that they’re both part of the same team. Otherwise, all the advocate is doing is nipping around the edge of the core problem, leading to a rise in dissatisfaction, costs, and time, which are antithetical to the use of ADR. It would, thus, be of great help if the advocate were to acknowledge the in-house counsel’s contribution and include him/ her in the ADR process by understanding that he owes a direct responsibility to the in-house counsel just as the duty is also towards the corporation. The acceptance of this role only encourages resonance – a quality in communication of being deep, full, and reverberating."

Read this interesting article in full. 

Language: English
Contact: Gracious Timothy and Tanima Tandon

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