Highlight: In-house Leader says that in-house lawyers shouldn't be 'the oily rag'

Nicholas Kynoch believes that in-house legal teams must go beyond just guiding businesses through loopholes

Highlight: In-house Leader says that in-house lawyers shouldn't be 'the oily rag'

As the role of in-house lawyers continues to rise in value within organisations, Generate KiwiSaver Scheme GC Nicholas Kynoch wants to see in-house lawyers go beyond being “the oily rag.”

Kynoch believes that in-house legal teams are more than that “someone that enables business to slip through legal loopholes, or exploit ambiguities, someone that primarily finds a way to implement orders given by others.”

“In-house lawyers need to synthesise a range of factors and issues, and take this into account to provide holistic advice. The shadow their advice casts must be larger than just the legal profile of the particular problem or issue,” he said.

In-house counsel have been doing more than just legal for a while, Kynoch explained.

COVID-19 has accelerated a trend that was already emerging with in-house lawyers, particularly with respect to general counsel, of becoming a key adviser to the business on strategic issues, not just legal issues,” he said. “Organisations are looking for their in-house lawyers to be a sounding board on a range of matters, and an integral part of the decision-making process. A key determinant of success is having sound judgment, not just on legal matters, and becoming that trusted adviser to the board.”

The unusual environment and lack of precedent has pushed many in-house lawyers to step out of their comfort zones.

“We’ve had to advise on matters we didn’t directly have experience on or that weren’t in our wheelhouse.” Kynoch explained. “I think many in-house lawyers have enjoyed that challenge and opportunity, I know I’ve enjoyed being engaged in these broader discussions and contributing beyond advising on purely legal matters.”

Nicholas Kynoch is among NZ Lawyer’s In-house Leaders for 2022.

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