Inside Lawyers: Friends or Gatekeepers?

What should the role of inside (in-house) lawyers be within the corporation? What, if any, obligations to the corporate entity should inside lawyers have to disrupt the material misconduct of their client representatives (to wit: senior managers, including the CEO)? Should inside lawyers conduct themselves as if they are “close friends” of senior managers or is there another, more appropriate model that would facilitate good corporate governance? To what extent should an inside lawyer think of herself as a “gatekeeper”—defined as a “private intermediary who can prevent harm to the securities markets by disrupting the misconduct of his/her client representatives? Would the imposition of some gatekeeping obligations ultimately backfire by foreclosing access to critical information about corporate misconduct?

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