Why set restrictions on firms if you can’t monitor or enforce them?

Law departments can say they reject certain practices by law firms, but if no way exists to detect the improper behavior, why encrust your outside counsel guidelines with a toothless prohibition? A leading example of thundering against the wind is insistence on most favored nation status (See my post of April 30, 2009: MFN impositions with 8 posts.). How will a firm’s non-conformance with that mandate ever come to light?

Another example would be if a law department solemnly proclaims that “If research on a matter for us has application to other clients, only bill us our proportionate share.” How can the department detect and enforce that quixotic position? “No photocopying charged to us for your internal convenience,” sounds void for vagueness, not detectible, and therefore not detestable. Guidelines that inveigh against unenforceables just seem silly. What Simon & Garfunkel sang should apply to rules: “We speak of things that matter, with words that must be said,” is bill analysis worthwhile, is the core staff really dead?

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