“Legal departments are always viewed as roadblocks”

That hurts, that view really hurts.

That business managers resent laws and kick the dog of the department that reminds them about its costs and constraints can’t be denied. That it takes time for a lawyer to look at an agreement or an advertisement or a potential patent or a lease is absolutely true. Legal review takes longer than a handshake or just plunging ahead. That clients sometimes skirt the edge of the law, race toward the volcanic center, or go over the precipice – yes, lawyers may stop that and sense the resentment of clients who view them as perpetual obstacles.

In a New Jersey L.J, July 8, 2011 profile, the general counsel of Mercedes-Benz USA remarks, without cavil “I want them [his nine-lawyer department] to feel like they’re part of the solution and not part of the problem because legal departments are always viewed as roadblocks.” Ironic, the car manufacture and the metaphor of roadblock and speed bumps.

How can general counsel believe that their team provides value if they also believe that they will always be seen as a hindrance?

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