A patronizing British attitude toward law departments

A short item about Serco, the U.K. contract and facilities management company, praised Mark Duckworth, its general counsel, for “decentralizing” 10 of its 12 lawyers to business units. He also redid the company’s panel of external counsel, leaving a prominent firm, Allen & Overy, off the panel. Legal Week, Nov. 3, 2005, at 78

This choice to leave the prominent law firm “out in the cold,” was “signaling a brave but risky strategy that demonstrates that Duckworth is confident in his own convictions and resistant to moving with the tide of opinion.”

Astonishing condescension. You mean, a general counsel has the temerity to stagger ahead, giving legal counsel all on his own, without the strong arms and bright minds of a mighty big-name firm? Imagine the hubris of that “brave [read, foolish] but risky” [read, tragic] fellow parading around like a grown up, Magic Circle partner? How quaintly romantic, but ultimately ill-fated, that he doesn’t body surf in on the tide of opinion in favor of hiring brand firms.

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