It is wonderful to hear lawyers say that their general counsel has an the door policy. They can drop in and talk with the lead lawyer with a degree of informality that evidences comfort and teamwork. Conversely, the general counsel is much more aware of workloads, issues, talent, and the legal heartbeat of the company.
An open door policy usually means that the law department is relatively small, in the range of 15 lawyers or less, and is clustered in one location. It also means the General Counsel’s office is proximate to the rest of the department (See my post of May 16, 2005 about the gold coast syndrome). The more lawyers in the department, however, the more the door shuts.