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A confusing interpretation of regulatory activity: subpoenas for documents

When you rely on someone else’s summary of research, you might be dealing with a bad translation. Even so, this summary statement of a survey finding caught my attention: “82 percent of respondents [to the survey described below] reported an increase in regulatory activity within the past year. The most common form of regulatory activity was the service of subpoenas seeking document production.”

The quote comes from The In-House Perspective, April 2011 at 13, which cites Deloitte & Touche’s “Forensic Corporate Counsel Survey 2010: do today’s corporate counsel hold all the cards?” Investigations by government agencies certainly drive some amount of in-house legal work, but formal requests for documents hardly constitute what most people think of as regulatory burden. Regulatory burdens consist of pages and pages of rules that interpret or apply statutes – themselves already jungle-like – or that set forth requirements of government agencies. Document requests might be common, but regulatory activity for a law department ranges much wider.

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