Management features of a large Russian legal department

Sistema is Russia’s largest private-sector consumer services company, with 2006 turnover of $10.9 billion. According to Legal Business, Iss. 179, Nov. 2007 at 31, the corporate center has 15 lawyers and there are squadrons of lawyers in the company’s many subsidiaries – “The total number of lawyers in the group runs well into three digits.” If we guess that 120 lawyers are embedded in the subsidiaries, then the lawyers-per-billion-dollars-of-revenue ratio of Sistema is a bit higher than 10.

From the article, I glean the following other facts about management features of this large Russian legal department. It has decentralized reporting for most of its lawyers; it hired a partner from Latham & Watkins recently as group general counsel; the new GC is a woman; the legal department has an “informal panel of preferred advisors”; it identifies as its preferred firms four US and one British megafirm; one of its primary firms had a relationship partner (now the GC); and the legal team feels pressured by the fast pace of its business clients.

From this, my first post about a Russian legal department, I conclude yet again that the issues general counsel face as managers are ubiquitous around the globe (See my post of Sept. 3, 2006 with references to law departments in eleven countries.).

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