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General counsel of foreign-based companies have to explain the US legal system and its costs

It struck me, from the profiles of two general counsel who serve the US legal needs of multinationals headquartered elsewhere, that an important part of their job is helping the senior executives of their companies – based in Tokyo, Geneva, Paris, or wherever – understand our Kafkaesqe and expensive legal labyrinth. Do US class actions make sense? How do you convey the risk of punitive damages? On an on.

As James Brumm, general counsel for Mitsubishi International explained in an article from Columbia Law School’s quarterly, oral agreements are not enforceable in the US, but try to explain that to a foreign colleague who has done business with a promise and a handshake all his life. (See my post of Dec. 14, 2005 on the special demands on GCs in highly-regulated industries.)

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