A post earlier this month considered the systemic prospect of headquarters staff shrinking in number (See my post of Nov. 30, 2008: HQ legal groups will shrink *1.). In support of that prediction, consider what happened after the merger of Akzo Nobel and International Chemicals in early 2008. Corp. Counsel, Vol. 15, Dec. 2008 at 111, reports that Akzo Nobel’s general counsel, Jan Karel van der Staay, disbanded the company’s central legal department. Now the lawyers are “situated within the decorative paints, high-performance coatings, and specialty chemicals divisions.”
It is possible that the executives of those divisions still have offices at headquarters, but I suspect that several or most do not. Thus, the lawyers who support them are now also dispersed (See my post of Sept. 19, 2008: smaller ratios of lawyers at HQ for global companies; and Sept. 19, 2008: Bombardier’s dispersed structure.).