General Counsels' Proactive Involvement in Supply Chains


When I've spoken to general counsel about their hiring practices for in-house counsel, concerns invariably come up in relation to hiring lawyers who have only law firm experience. One question is, can the law firm lawyer make the transition from reactive legal counsel (responding to and hopefully resolving a specific instance of "something gone wrong") to proactive legal counsel (serving as a strategic partner who can work with units throughout the business to reduce risk, smooth day-to-day operations, and ultimately save the business money)? Ed Silverstein's "Chain of ethics: General counsel have key role in developing ethical, well-managed supply chains" in Inside Counsel provides yet another illustration of how in-house counsel can be proactive. With help from Sarah Rathke of Squire Patton Boggs, Robert Handfield of North Carolina State University, Sarah Altschuller of Foley Hoag, Neal White of McDermott Will & Emery, and Sue Helper of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the article examines three specific areas where general counsel (and of course other in-house counsel) can make a proactive difference:

  • Contracts, contract management, and risk management throughout the product life cycle.

  • Ethics, social responsibility, compliance, and vendor relationships -- especially related to operations abroad.

  • The tracking of pending legislation and regulations, and their impact on the business.

If you have experience in these areas, you'll want to highlight that one your resume. If you don't, then that's a soft spot in your skill set that you'll want to address.