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Admirable characteristics of a medium size law department regarding talent

A profile of Respironics’ general counsel, Steve Fulton, has dotted throughout four commendable people practices in his department.

Strong hires and strong retention. During Fulton’s 13-year tenure, “I have never needed to terminate an attorney and none of the attorneys I hired has left” as quoted in GC Mid-Atlantic, June 2008 at 8 (See my posts of Dec. 12, 2006: low attrition in UK legal teams; March 4, 2007: rates of departure; June 24, 2007: blame the general counsel for high attrition rates; and June 15, 2008: Qwest lowers its attrition rate.).

Experienced, mature lawyers. Respironics’ four transactional attorneys average 17 years of experience.

Autonomy for lawyers. Work comes from clients to the individual attorney, rather than coming to Fulton to parcel out. This system allows the attorneys to build relationships with what are in effect their own clients. General counsel should not be the primary clearinghouse for work assignments.

Keep good work inside. The Respironics legal team does nearly all of the company’s legal work inside. The exceptions are international work and litigation (See my post of July 11, 2008: autarky and Respironics.). Keep good work inside and you keep good workers inside.

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