Contrary to the reputation lawyers have, we really do want to help you in a manner that is effective and efficient. Unfortunately, many people get frustrated with the time it takes to get the answer they need. What they fail to realize is that if their attorney had been informed earlier and kept in the loop as things developed, he or she could have acted much quicker. Consider the following scenario that you may be able to relate to:
As a lawyer or purchasing person, your internal customer (pick one: calls you/ drops into your office/ sends you an email) telling you he/she needs a Purchase Order or Contract issued within the next XX minutes/ hours/ days. After questioning, you find out he/ she has been talking (hopefully, negotiating) with the supplier for months. Unfortunately, this is the first you’ve ever heard about the deal. Of course, they don’t tell you any specifics….just the basics they think you need to know to issue the PO/ Contract. They tell you not to spend a lot of time on it and just do the “standard” PO/ Contract. (IMPORTANT NOTE: All names have been deleted to protect the guilty!)
Without having the specifics of the interaction between your internal customer and the supplier, it inhibits your ability to do your job effectively. If you had been involved sooner in the process, couldn’t you have issued a more meaningful purchase order or contract? This is similar to the interaction many clients have with their attorney.
What can an internal customer do to get better advice and quicker responses from your legal department? Give us the information and the time we need early on in the process. This doesn’t mean you have to have a lengthy meeting with me, but sending a quick email or making a short telephone call to give me notice of the deal being negotiated can prove to be quite helpful.
The internal customer should stay involved in the process. If the supplier is asking for changes to a clause, it is important that you understand the issues behind the requested change before sending it to your attorney. This allows you to discuss the negotiation or the rewrite of the provision with your attorney so that the issue is addressed and it avoids the unnecessary back and forth.
Lastly, you should think about whether or not your lawyer really needs to approve certain changes. If the change is a business issue that is within your domain to decide, handle it yourself. However, if your supplier wants to change the indemnity, insurance, governing law, warranty, confidentiality, non-disclosure or the intellectual property clauses, you should confer with your attorney.
To ensure that your contract provides you with the most protection from liability available, contact Leslie S. Marell to schedule an appointment. Our office is located in Torrance, California, but we proudly serve businesses of all sizes from all over the country.