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Functional, dotted-line reporting: huh?

A report by the Association of Corporate Counsel brought to light two law departments, John Deere and Nokia, where the lawyers who serve operating units report to the head of the unit, as well as to the general counsel by a “functional, dotted-line report.” “Leading Practices in Job Titles for In-House Lawyers: What Companies are Doing” (Assoc. Corp. Counsel, Aug. 2005 at 12, 16).

I believe that a functional reporting relationship means that how the lawyer works qua lawyer – in the professional capacity of giving legal counsel – falls to the general counsel to supervise, whereas what the lawyer works on as well as the other aspects of being an employee (compensation, promotions, location, title, support staff) fall to the solid-line supervisor.

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