Braggadocio if law departments hold themselves out as gifted, strategists, beacons of integrity, and patron saints of corporate social responsibility
Lawyers, sometimes pummeled by non-lawyers as arrogant and prideful, bring that opprobrium on themselves if they try to elevate their department as grander and more influential than others would agree. A number of instances of inflated self-regard and self-promoting have appeared on this blog (See my post of July 24, 2011: all staff functions provide input to business managers, and legal is not special.). Let me pull together five culprits.
“We lawyers are deep strategic thinkers”: The GC argues that it should play a role in all corporate decisions of significance (See my post of April 13, 2012: no, don’t try to intervene in all strategic decisions.).
“Our legal team is unique and superior as a support staff group”: The law department that sets itself above other support functions earns no respect (See my post of April 19, 2012: uniqueness of law departments as serving others.).
“We are the smartest guys in the room”: Pride in intellectual precociousness is not smart around non-lawyers (See my post of April 18, 2012: thought leaders.).
“We are endowed with more righteousness”: The law department that deludes itself as the dominant moral voice irritates others (See my post of May 3, 2006: law department as the “independent beacon of ethics and compliance”; and June 29, 2011: heightened expectations regarding integrity of the general counsel.).
“Plus, we are a material and independent revenue producer”; Risk management and business enablement, not departmental bottom line, is the better view (See my post of April 27, 2008: profit center with 18 references.).