Negotiating "Counsel" in Title for Non-Attorney Role In House

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Negotiating "Counsel" in Title for Non-Attorney Role In House

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:33 pm

Has anyone had an experience doing this? I'm interviewing for an in-house role at a major IB, but it's in their front office in a contract negotiator/JD preferred role (so essentially same as the job title I've had at my current role for 3 years). I just passed the NY bar, and after speaking with some people, they advised I only look at actual attorney roles going forward, so I cancelled my callback with the IB. They called me yesterday asking if there was anything they could do to have me reconsider (which I was pretty surprised by), and I expressed that I wanted an actual attorney title, even if the responsibilities/reporting within the group remained the same.

Is this possible in-house if you're not in within the GC group? I have another call with them tomorrow morning to talk through the possibility.

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Re: Negotiating "Counsel" in Title for Non-Attorney Role In House

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Oct 31, 2019 3:04 pm

I just did this, not at an IB, but in house. My impression is its company by company. Politically, if u are reporting to someone who is not under the legal umbrella, people might feel territorial and not like someone with a legal title sitting somewhere else in the org chart. My impression is that it was doable, but very difficult for my boss.

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Re: Negotiating "Counsel" in Title for Non-Attorney Role In House

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Nov 01, 2019 2:40 pm

OP here. Spoke with the MD who was in charge of the group. They didn't have an issue with the position being an attorney role, and actually thought it should report into legal (and mentioned that they were struggling to recruit for the position because of it was basically a legal role with a business title, and were considering moving the role back into legal in the future). Overall it was a no-go though because GC wasn't able to have someone in an attorney role outside of GC. It's unfortunate because the group is one I would be really interested in, and the IB has a really strong rep. Oh well.

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Re: Negotiating "Counsel" in Title for Non-Attorney Role In House

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Nov 01, 2019 3:48 pm

Sorry to hear that, OP. I've discovered through my own process that titles are heavily political for no practical reason. There is a lot of territoriality and empire building involved.

albanach

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Re: Negotiating "Counsel" in Title for Non-Attorney Role In House

Post by albanach » Sat Nov 02, 2019 2:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Sorry to hear that, OP. I've discovered through my own process that titles are heavily political for no practical reason. There is a lot of territoriality and empire building involved.
I think there are other reasons. Many large organizations have lawyers in business roles all over the place. But only the law department is able to give legal advice. Otherwise you risk lawyer shopping internally, inconsistent advice and huge problems with protecting privilege to name but a few potential issues.

Let's say I call you as part of a business deal and you have counsel in your title. I'm going to assume you represent the organization as an attorney and not request you get counsel to join the call. Now I have an ethics problem if I know you have counsel working on the matter but didn't include them.

I think it's pretty typical that everyone with a counsel/attorney/lawyer title is going to have to report though the GC.

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kaiser

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Re: Negotiating "Counsel" in Title for Non-Attorney Role In House

Post by kaiser » Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:00 pm

My concern is the possible ethical issues that could arise given how misleading that would be.

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Re: Negotiating "Counsel" in Title for Non-Attorney Role In House

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Nov 04, 2019 6:47 pm

i am one of the anons above - curious what the ethical problems would be? if you are barred, you can hold yourself out as a lawyer, and it sounds like OP's job has plenty of actual legal content. as far as I know, there are no issues with lawyers performing non-legal work.

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Re: Negotiating "Counsel" in Title for Non-Attorney Role In House

Post by QContinuum » Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:i am one of the anons above - curious what the ethical problems would be? if you are barred, you can hold yourself out as a lawyer, and it sounds like OP's job has plenty of actual legal content. as far as I know, there are no issues with lawyers performing non-legal work.
Standard disclaimer - not a C&F lawyer. Of course admitted lawyers can hold themselves out as lawyers, and of course admitted lawyers can - and do - perform nonlegal work while holding themselves out as lawyers. I think kaiser's concern, which I also have, is with the concept of having "counsel" "in title for [a] non-attorney role", as the OP put it. It is arguably misleading to accept or use a "counsel" title when, in fact, you 1) aren't actually acting as "counsel" and 2) are prohibited by the company's policy from acting as "counsel". (Merely performing legal work isn't the same as acting as "counsel" for the company.) albanach above raises a good hypo about how such a use of "counsel" could, in fact, inadvertently result in other lawyers violating the ethical rules.

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nealric

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Re: Negotiating "Counsel" in Title for Non-Attorney Role In House

Post by nealric » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:14 pm

albanach wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
I think it's pretty typical that everyone with a counsel/attorney/lawyer title is going to have to report though the GC.
It's fairly common for tax attorneys that report up through the CFO to have counsel titles. Many (if not most) companies have internal policies that require sign off by attorneys in the law group for certain things to prevent shopping attorneys outside the group.

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