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A three-ply description of the structure and roles of global legal department

Three functional dimensions of a multi-national law department: “general business lawyers with global responsibility, legal specialists in the core legal fields for the company’s operations, and in-house lawyers on the ground in the main jurisdictions where the company conducts its business.” This is the three-way division of in-house counsel envisioned by Jan Eijsbouts, the former general counsel of Akzo Nobel, in E. Leigh Dance, Bright Ideas: Insights from Legal Luminaries Worldwide (Mill City Press 2009) at vi.

As I interpret his description, Eijsbouts recommends big-picture lawyers that oversee global legal issues, substantive subject matter experts that serve as a shared service for all the lawyers, and generalist commercial lawyers in the field serving business units. That is a broad division of responsibility that makes sense.

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