Failure to acknowledge the risk with juggling multiple roles can result in more than just losing a job. It can mean losing a bar license.
When the in-house counsel assumes both legal and nonlegal roles at the same company during the same period, the in-house counsel must recognize that the chances of an ethical issue arising increases exponentially in a variety of ways.
Potential ethical pitfalls that may arise may include:
- ability to assert attorney-client privilege;
- strain existing resources; and
- result in client confusion.
If the in-house counsel fails to recognize these boundary issues and the in-house counsel fails to make efforts to establish them, they can find themselves in a difficult situation that may result in negative consequences for the company and the company employee.
As with anything in business, risk is all around us. The takeaway here is not to discourage you from assuming more than just a legal role. The takeaway here is for you to carefully evaluate the role before you take it; THEN you work proactively to manage and mitigate the risk associated with having both roles.
If you are looking for CLE ethics credit, check out How to Avoid Ethical Pitfalls about the Ethical Pitfalls When Partnering With the Business available through In-House Connect On Demand, where we talk about this topic and more!
Go to Above the Law for the full article.