Disparagement in a remark about in-house counsel

A profile of the group general counsel of BAE Systems, Philip Bramwell, explains parts of his three-year plan to restructure the defense and aerospace giant’s 120-lawyer department. The piece appears in Legal Week, July 31, 2008 and praises the initiatives he has started.

What caught in my throat was an observation by the journalist (Leigh Jackson) toward the end: “It is clear that Bramwell … is intent on fostering an ambition and drive at his team that is still seldom seen in-house.”

Unambitious and plodding? That shot is unfair and unwarranted. Many in-house counsel, at least in US law departments, work hard and push themselves. The measure should not be private law firms, because once you reach partner, where is ambition? And what about all the associates who fall by the wayside of large law firms? I dislike patronizing and disparaging remarks about in-house (See my post of June 9, 2007: superior minds at law firms; Oct. 12, 2006: “little merit to a full-service law department”; Oct. 30, 2006: condescension by law firm partners; and Nov. 19, 2005: another patronizing British comment about law departments.).

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