Decentralized legal reporting at General Electric

A paragraph in Legal Week, Vol. 7, Dec. 15, 2005 at 45, captures the essence of lawyers NOT reporting to a company’s most senior lawyer (See my post of Dec. 14, 2005 on “functional” reporting and July 25, 2005 on AXA’s decentralized reporting.):

“GE has 11 separate business departments, each with its own legal department headed by a general counsel who reports to the chief executive of that division. GE Consumer Finance’s general counsel is Elizabeth Lee, who oversees a legal staff of more than 110 lawyers in 21 countries.”

Not only does this structure suggest that the corporate legal group of GE, based mostly in Fairfield, Connecticut, has an indirect coordinating role at best for much of the legal work done for the company, it also bespeaks a country-by-country assignment of lawyers (at least in GE Consumer Finance). (See my post of Dec. 23, 2005 on Royal Dutch Shell’s three levels of assignments.)

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