The in-house world is where it’s at

Allow me to say hello. This is my first issue of Canadian Lawyer InHouse magazine. It’s a community I have had the pleasure of working with in my prior role as editor of Law Times, which focuses on the Ontario legal community.

Allow me to say hello. This is my first issue of Canadian Lawyer InHouse magazine.

It’s a community I have had the pleasure of working with in my prior role as editor of Law Times, which focuses on the Ontario legal community.

As I’ve already discovered, the in-house community is a tight-knit one, even in a geographically large country. Its needs are specific and unique, and this issue of InHouse has a wide breadth of insight on ways the role of in-house counsel is evolving.

The focus of this issue is the 14th annual General Counsel roundtable, where five lawyers from very different companies have addressed the business advisory role of in-house counsel.

Each lawyer’s take on how they can best bring value to their respective business is refreshing.

“I think there is an expectation that a GC will contribute widely to a company’s business. I find that people come to me for advice and perspective as opposed to a strict legal interpretation. That’s not what my executives are looking for,” says Alison Harnick, general counsel and corporate secretary at First Capital Realty Inc.

“They want that perspective, that bird’s-eye view that I think as lawyers we’re well positioned to take because we do work with all the different disciplines.”

With that expectation in mind, this issue explores some of the up-and-coming areas that are top of mind for those practising in the field.

We have a column and an article on the future of blockchain. Investments in the technology are surging, but, so far, there hasn’t been widespread adoption.

“Exploring is probably the right way to describe where most organizations would be in the market,” says Andrew McCoomb of Norton Rose Fulbright LLP in Toronto.

“It is very experimental in terms of the big industry applications.”

Lawyers familiar with blockchain and its uses break down its value.

There is also important insight on protecting a company’s IP portfolio in this issue.

For all the technological innovation, some say part of mastering the portfolio is collaboration with others hard at work on creations.

For example, Panagiota Dafniotis, assistant general counsel and head of the intellectual property group at the RBC law group in Montreal, says communication and education are key.

“That’s really what gives you the greatest traction and adoption in the organization because the moment people understand and are engaged in a particular strategy, that’s really when you get the most traction and success in protecting what needs to be protected in your company,” she says.

It’s certainly a heady time to be in-house counsel, which is why staying informed is more important than ever.

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