Struggles over who should manage specialty litigation?

Sometimes there is a three-way battle in a law department over who manages litigation. If a patent infringement dispute boils over into a lawsuit, should the patent lawyer pull the trigger; should a litigation lawyer lead the charge; should the business unit lawyer whose unit relies most on the patent spearhead the litigation? A war, no?

Assuming equally talented in-house counsel and excluding law firms from the decision (where there is a parallel question, by the way), I would choose the business unit lawyer to serve as general. For one reason, it is crucial to keep litigation in a profit and loss framework, not as an end unto itself. I demote the specialists – here, the patent lawyer – because their role might in fact be minor, as litigation discovery and motion practice and stratagems takes over. As for the litigator, they are a specialist advising the generalist coordinator, but in the end they will spend most of the time on the matter managing outside counsel.

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