Don’t hire a head of litigation!

Jeff Carr, the outspoken general counsel of FMC Technologies put forth ten rules for reducing the costs of litigation (Corp. Legal Times, Aug. 2005, at pg. 18). The rules struck me as savvy and iconoclastic. For example, recognize that litigation should never be a core competency and that it’s not about winning, it’s about resolving.

Here’s Carr’s zinger. Don’t hire a head litigator, for the reason that “the last thing that person wants to do is work himself out of a job.” Carr advocates making business lawyers responsible for litigation, presumably because they will take a commercial view of resolving a dispute as promptly as possible and with a view to ongoing relations or bottom-line effect.

I like the thrust of his point, while suspecting that Carr exaggerates to provoke. Litigation dogs all companies and litigation specialists know more about it than generalists. Having said that, however, I agree with Carr that business lawyers should have the primary management role as to cases and that business executives should be closely involved in resolving them expeditiously.

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