Skip-level calls and meetings are the right of a general counsel, but watch out!

General Counsel ought to feel completely free to call or speak, directly, with any lawyer the department, regardless of level. Doing so, however may upset the boss of a lower-level lawyer who is called. Skipping a level can make that person feel that they are being gone around, disrespected, or marginalized.

Be sensitive to the reverberations from the skip-level contact. But I think the most important value at stake is open communication. A general counsel encourages people to speak freely and promptly by keeping the channels of communication open at all levels (See my post of Sept. 25, 2006 on “open-door” policies.).

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