CLIENTSpeak: Ken Wittenauer, VP of Compliance and Integrity at Husqvarna

Society 54 gives you direct access to what In-House Counsel and other purchasers of legal services want from their lawyers and law firms. The CLIENTSpeak Q&A below is from a recent interview we conducted with Ken Wittenauer, VP of Compliance and Integrity at Husqvarna.

Q: What factors influence whether you hire outside counsel?
A: Typically companies expect that in-house counsel will be able to directly manage/draft/advise/negotiate without simply overseeing outside counsel in those efforts. Dependent upon the size of the in-house staff, outside counsel is still primarily retained for purposes of litigation defense and specialized areas such as IP, tax or environmental matters.

Q: What are some things that outside counsel have done that have made a positive impression or impact?
A: Investment in understanding the culture and business of the company. Spending time with the company without necessarily billing for a particular project.

Q: Do in-house counsel care if your outside counsel is a super/best/elite lawyer?
A: Not generally. We look for capable, knowledgeable and cost effective representation.

Q: What law firm trends are you seeing that you would like to either end or continue?
A: Continue to offer flexible, creative fee arrangements.

Q: What advice would you give to a junior associate at a law firm?
A: Do not always bill the call or contact — proactively touch base (call) with clients to determine their level of satisfaction and ways to improve communication. Keep in-house counsel updated on trends in practice areas. Host roundtables so that clients with common legal interests can connect and do not burden such meetings with too much firm promotions or presentations. Sometimes in-house counsel need to meet and share informally.