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The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is the world's largest organization serving the professional and business interests of attorneys who practice in the legal departments of corporations, associations, nonprofits and other private-sector organizations around the globe.

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In-house Counsel Housekeeping Checklist

Thinking and Problem Solving for In-house Counsel


Getting Information About Your Client


Peripheral Vision & Strategic Thinking – Who is the Customer and What Does the Customer Need?

Peripheral Vision

  • What’s the future that has already happened?  Seeing the “future” in the “present” →  What opportunities does this future present?  
  • Asking the right questions: What do we need to know?  What’s occurring?  What does it mean for us?  [“Us” can be your organization, or simply the “legal department”]

Tracking Events Outside Your Organization

  • Intelligence System [scanning the environment and the periphery; seeing ahead and around corners; connecting “what’s new” with “what you already know”]
  • Noticing customer needs, observing changes and trends both in your industry and the law → changes and trends can present opportunities

Tracking Achievements Inside Your Organization → Information Systems & Results

  • Measure to manage; organize data & information about your matters [e.g. risk, compliance, costs/values of violations, disputes and other matters]

Strategic Thinking

  • How organizational strategy meets customers’ needs

Being Effective and Efficient for Your Client


Systems & Design Thinking: develop systems thinking; seeing “wholes” and patterns [use insights from the Intelligence System and Information System above]

  • Set up systems [processes/forms/documents] as needed in your areas [e.g. governance, risk management, compliance, drafting, dispute prevention, early dispute resolution, value, crisis management]
  • Set up “after-action review” systems where you review matters to add to your “preventive system”

Process and Lean Thinking: reducing waste, highlighting value, adding technology/automation, project management; using checklists [things that you typically “do” on a case]

  • Lean thinking: diagnose challenges in processes that are causing delays, frustrations, errors, long cycle times, dissatisfaction → solutions to address those problems

Being Innovative and Creative for Your Client


Innovation: Is there a better way?

  • Could we offer our customers [current and potential] new products/services?  What new projects could we do?  How can we do current projects better?

Creative & Smart Thinking and Problem Solving  

  • Please visit “ACC Value Champions – Meet the Champions”]

From James Freund who years ago wrote a book entitled, Lawyering: the most brilliant ideas are simple rather than complex – a fresh way of looking at a problem; question the assumptions [if you’re having difficulty working with them]; look for analogies; figure out possibilities for alternatives.


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