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Dual reporting of specialist lawyers

Most law departments these days have some lawyers dedicated to business units and the others, legal specialists like litigators, employment and environmental lawyers, support them. Should those specialists report to the head specialist lawyer – the AGC Real Estate Law – or to the head business unit lawyer – the AGC Widgets? Dual reporting is another choice, and one I favor.

For example, trademark lawyers in Europe might co-report to the company’s head TM lawyer and to the head business lawyer in Europe. This makes sense.

But the law department must state clearly what it means to “co-report.” Who prepares evaluations? Who decides on bonuses? Who decides to change titles or relocate someone? Who can fire a bad performer? In general, the nearest person directs day-to-day activities and priorities, while the other supervisor (the head specialty lawyer) manages professional development, quality, and the personnel functions.

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