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European general counsel are becoming more strategic, and risk managers

The Financial Times (April 14, 2005) concluded from an interview with Barclays’ general counsel, Mark Harding, that European general counsel are gradually rising from simply running the legal department to managing legal risk.  The risk manager role, monitoring and assessing legal, regulatory, and compliance risks, takes on “more of an American-style strategic role.”  (The implicit view must be that “simply running the department” means parochial blinders, client-unfriendly reactivity, and cost-center shortcomings.)

The article adds that Barclays’ lawyers, based in 17 countries, “contributed to 70 separate initiatives to help the bank prepare for legal or regulatory changes over the past year.”  Here is a provocative peek into the integration of lawyers, clients, and legal change.