Strong dotted line/solid line – one distinction is who can hire or fire a lawyer (GE)

In his description of the legal reporting lines at General Electric, Ben Heineman writes that inside lawyers “have a direct line to [their] business leader and a strong dotted line to [the general counsel] me,” Corp. Counsel, Vol. 13, April 2006 at 87. It is “strong dotted” because “both the business leader and I have to agree to hire (I produce the candidate slates), but either can fire” (See my post of March 1, 2006 on function and dotted line reporting.)

Since Heineman describes the GE compensation scheme but says nothing about who sets compensation or awards bonuses for the business lawyer, it is possible that those decisions are the prerogative of the business leader. If that is so, then a strong dotted line consists of not the full powers to hire, fire, pay, and promote, but the ability to hire jointly from the GC’s list and to fire unilaterally.

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