SEC Commissioner: “I hope [companies] maintain strong – they probably need stronger – legal in-house capabilities.”

An attitude I warmly applaud, the speaker was Elisse Walter, a Securities and Exchange (SEC) commissioner. She was interviewed before she spoke at a recent conference. Her point was that in light of Sarbanes-Oxley and heightened regulatory scrutiny, companies should not pare back on activities “that are not profit centers but rather are functions, like the legal counsel that keep you on the straight and narrow.” The remark is in the ABA J., Vol. 95, Dec. 2009 at 28.

It is too rare to find high-level support for the vitality and contribution of the internal legal function (See my post of Feb. 23, 2009: Google CEO — “have a large number of lawyers.”). The best praise for a legal department comes from the CEO (See my post of Oct. 28, 2009: CEOs with 27 references.).

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