No! Don’t think that the “legal team should be an active participant in all critical corporate decisions”

In the ACC Docket, March 2012 at 24, the general counsel of NetScout Systems holds high the banner that that the “legal team should be an active participant in all critical corporate decisions.” Unless “critical corporate decisions” is deemed synonymous with “decisions where legal input must be had,” in which case the sentence is a tautology, this is a mischievous assertion. It would have law departments step far beyond the bounds of where in-house lawyers have skills and should be actively devoting chunks of time.

A decision to sell a major business unit certainly ought to involve in-house counsel at some stage, but the decisions that precede legal input have everything to do with business concerns like competition, corporate resources, fit, growth markets and nothing to do with laws and statutes. Decisions to locate manufacturing or distribution sites are likewise primarily based on revenue, costs, logistics, and taxes, not on statutes, cases, regulations, or the common law.

The legal department is not and should not be the hub of the company. It should not try to stick its thumb into every pie.

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