Law department as cost center, but some business development

The General Counsel of Cisco Systems, interviewed for a California Lawyer article a couple of years ago, explained that he divided “his legal spending into two categories: business development – such as patent applications and M&A costs – and transactions, litigation and general corporate support.” He benchmarked his numbers to those of similarly situated companies.

My reaction to this description centered around two points. Why aren’t “transactions” in the category of “business development?” They should be if they cover such tasks as reviewing contracts for purchase or sale. Second, “general corporate support,” could also run with the pack of “business development,” especially if it is advice on human resources legal issues. In short, how did the GC draw the lines and persuade other departments that the lines were meaningful?

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