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Five management comments about the law department of Clorox

Laura Stein, the general counsel of Clorox, describes her role and department in Practical Law, Feb. 2010 at 96. From that profile we can make several comments.

Benchmarks. The $5.3 billion company employs 30 lawyers, which means slightly fewer than six lawyers per billion. That seems somewhat higher than one would expect from a consumer products company, but you can’t say anything meaningful about the benchmark metric until you know what the company spends on outside counsel.

Unusual support staff. Stein says that support for the lawyers comes from “paralegals, administrative assistants, project managers and clerks.” The reference to “project managers” intrigues me but I have no idea what they do. “Clerks” could be law school students or interns. Or, more likely, the term applies to file clerks or records clerks, possibly trademark clerks.

Global but centralized. Third, the department remains clustered geographically, despite the company’s global operations and sales. The lawyers are based mostly in Oakland with some in Los Angeles and an outpost on Buenos Aires.

Flattish org chart. As to its structure, the department has four associate general counsel who report to Stein, and thus on average about six lawyers below each of those direct reports.

Reputational mandate for the top lawyer. Finally, Stein not only has responsibility for the law department but also business ethics, corporate governance, “risk management, internal audit, compliance, corporate communications, crisis management, and business continuity planning – all areas that are closely tied to the reputation of the company.” More hats than Imelda Marcos had shoes!