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Head lawyers in a department for broad geographic regions

Int’l In-House Counsel J., Vol 2, Summer 2009 at 1299, comments broadly on the advisability in larger legal departments to divide into regions and appoint a top lawyer for each. “It is likely advisable to do so if the business is operating in more than 10 countries.” That is one trip-wire, but I believe that distant time zones and a babble of languages justify regional legal heads more than sheer numbers of countries. Europe can be one region even though it covers far more than 10 countries.

More deeply, I favor an organizational structure based on the client’s structure, so if the client operates around the world through business units, that is the better alignment for the legal department than geographic slices (See my post of Dec. 23, 2005: Royal Dutch Shell’s regional head lawyers; Feb. 15, 2006: Unilever’s regional counsel; March 17, 2006: five regional legal groups at HSBC; May 2, 2008: regional general counsel vs. business unit general counsel; Aug. 5, 2008: various allocations of responsibilities within global law departments; Oct. 24, 2008: Eli Lilly and its early counsel heads in regions; Feb. 13, 2009: Cadbury and its eight regional heads; and April 25, 2009: Schneider Electric and its three regional counsel.).

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