“Bad News Never Gets Better With Time”
Of all the comments uttered by in-house counsel, this one may be the most universal. In-house counsel are like in-house police: they either bring news that the company has violated or been violated. They have few opportunities to ever get ahead of the curve, to be a partner in managing the company’s risk, in championing progress, ideas and innovation, and all too often get blamed for inhibiting progress and not being strong business professionals.
So, given that psychological rewards of being an in-house counsel are few and far between, what are you doing to make sure that your clients have every advantage to succeed, to stay ahead of problems and challenges and to be in-house resources rather than in-house cops?
If nothing else never, never wait to let your clients know that things are not going as expected. Never let them be surprised. Never assume that clients know what you know. Make a plan to stay in touch, keep them informed and always over communicate. If you have bad news, waiting never makes the news better or makes the bad news go away. As one in-house once said, “If you let me know about a problem, then we have a chance.”
Remember that your client has a client, and that’s who is going to hear about the bad news. Make your clients look like heroes.