Law-department management issues transcend national boundaries

InsideCounsel, May 2007 at 66, profiles the general counsel of the Dutch chemical company Akzo Nobel. It mentions that Jan Eijsbouts “drastically reduce the number of outside firms uses from hundreds to less than 20.” Two pages later it states that Mark Harding, the high-profile general counsel of Barclays, demanded in 2006 that Barclay’s law firms provide statistics on the gender and ethnic make-up of their staff if they wanted to continue receiving assignments from the bank.” Carrefour’s general counsel, Franck Tassan, has a legal staff of the hundred and 63 people spread over 30 countries (at 71). To integrate that dispersed group, Tassan “successfully establish clear reporting lines from each country’s’ legal directors to his home base in Paris, all the while fostering a sense of community among his multinational team.”

All that is to say that a Dutch law department converges law firms, a British bank aggressively pushes diversity, and a French retailer deals with law department structure and culture. Management challenges in law departments are universal.

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