EARLY IN HER CAREER, KRISTINA MARITCZAK WITNESSED
malpractice unfold right before her eyes.
A prestigious East Coast firm that her company hired
missed crucial details—including the fact that the plaintiff
and co-defendant were in a romantic relationship—and
overbilled by approximately $250,000 before discovery
even began. “I was not the chief legal officer at the time,
and I recommended we file grievances against these lawyers
for malpractice,” says Maritczak. “But my boss disagreed.
He didn’t want our company’s legal department to gain a
reputation of bringing malpractice claims.” Ultimately, with
her boss’s approval, she fired the East Coast counsel, but the
whole process was costly.
On the plus side, the formative experience influenced how
Maritczak built the legal department at Cobalt Mortgage Inc.
from scratch: She only hired in-house counsel that she trusted
completely. Anyone who was subpar she’d phase out immediately.
The inside-outside counsel relationship is longstanding and
nuanced. In recent years, companies have pared down the size of
their in-house teams as well as their portfolio of outside counsel.
They are increasingly using alternative billing structures. And
more than ever before, companies care that outside counsel are a
culture fit with their corporation. But at the end of the day, these
relationships are like any other: They’re built on trust.
We spoke with several GCs and outside counsel to get a sense of
how they manage these relationships.