One difference in the law department between different practice areas is whether they have a client. Is there someone in the company who cares about the efforts of the inside lawyer?
Personnel staff go to Human Resource’s lawyers; clients under the CFO turn to finance lawyers, as environmental workers look to their EH&S lawyers and R&D is served by the patent and trademark lawyers.
No one, however, is the client of a litigator. Some financial analysts may care about the cost, sometimes, but defensive litigation rarely advances the business, so no business executive pays it much heed. Perhaps only the general counsel cares and is a surrogate client. Most notably, if the litigation concerns disposed of or closed assets – legacy litigation about the past – client apathy is at its greatest (See my post of July 16, 2005 on legacy litigation.).