Public disclosure of spending, firms, cases, etc: where’s the harm? Mostly internal knives!

Some general counsel hold their cards close to their vests; they hide their staff numbers, how much they spend on outside counsel, the litigation load they face, locations of lawyers, everything. Yet mighty United Technologies didn’t mind sharing detailed benchmark metrics about its number of lawyers, caseload, spend on external counsel, and distribution of cases by type. All of them I have written about, and gratefully, because we have such spotty information publicly available (See my post of Dec. 22, 2009: offices and countries with lawyers; Dec. 23, 2009: distribution of lawsuits; and Dec. 27, 2009: three metrics, including law firms retained per billion.).

What can a competitor do if it knows how many lawyers you have or what you spend on the legal function? Nothing. Nor can plaintiff’s attorneys.

I have the sneaking suspicion that general counsel favor secrecy and opacity mostly so that their own CFO and other internal executives are kept in the dark. Keep every figure under wraps and no one can attack you or your budget with any specificity.

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