In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s end of term decisions, many lawyers have been reminded of how court decisions affect day-to-day practice. From second amendment rights to privacy to public health, this SCOTUS term has unsettled decades of precedent—and decades of corporate best practices. While we all began our legal careers reading case law in doctrinal classes, that habit can fall to the back burner once settled in an in-house role. However, this tumultuous term is likely to spark a ripple effect for the companies in which we work that will be forced to respond to shifting business priorities, new customer demands, and years of follow-on litigation. Therefore, it is essential for in-house attorneys to understand the Supreme Court’s docket and decisions enough to advise our internal clients in light of the shifting legal landscape.
Why It Matters
In-house attorneys act as a unique bridge between the constantly evolving legal field and the mission and goals of a particular company. To provide the best advice to our clients, in-house attorneys have always needed to know the business goals of the company and how the changing legal climate may affect the ability of the company to reach those goals. For example, it has been important for compliance attorneys to understand changing standards in their day-to-day work as regulatory agencies and legislatures publish periodic updates to longstanding rules. Likewise, litigators have tried to know which jurisdictions are better venues for their business by paying attention to how courts adjudicate matters relevant to their industry. So too have transactional lawyers kept an eye on market priorities, which may require attention to shifts in other companies’ business practices or shareholder feedback.