Understanding the business: how in-house lawyers can add value

Understanding  the business: how in-house lawyers can add value

The key to in-house lawyers understanding the businessJeremy Berenzweig, Deputy General Counsel at Cummins, explores why lawyers need to thoroughly understand their business in order to add the value that will contribute to its success.

Tell us a bit about your background and the business…

Cummins is a global manufacturer of diesel engines, generator sets and related technology. When I joined Cummins more than 11 years ago, sales were about $6 billion in sales and this year the target is to exceed $19 billion. I am Deputy General Counsel for our four business units. We have 60 lawyers around the world and we all report to the General Counsel. Key for us is that we think of ourselves as one team. At the end of the day, if we’re not there to help each other, then we’re not there to help the business.

I became a lawyer because I believe in fairness and justice. I also love international business - so working in-house is the perfect combination for me especially at Cummins, because it has amazing values. Our former chairman marched with Martin Luther King to Washington; he took us into India in the 60s and China in the 70s. He believed that diversity was not just the right thing to do, but also that it was great for business. We’ve got this really long legacy and as we grow we don’t want to lose that. I think if you ask most of the leaders in the business why they joined Cummins, it’s because of the values.

What do you see as the role of the in-house lawyer?

The most important first step is to think of yourself as part of the business. Yes lawyers have a specialism, but we’re the same as every other employee – we’re trying to help the business be successful. The only way

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About the author:
Sophie Gould is the Head of Lexis®PSL In-house. Sophie worked as an in-house lawyer for 10 years including seven years as Head of Legal for Virgin Radio and Ginger Media Group. She has also run a legal risk and compliance training business.


Since joining LexisNexis in 2009 Sophie has worked on developing our legal and business content for the in-house legal community.  She also runs various networking and mentoring groups for in-house lawyers and works with schools to promote social mobility within the legal profession.