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Internal auditors who review the legal department – ambitious goals

Expectations about what internal audit can do to improve a legal department may be unrealistic. An article in Compliance Week (July 7, 2010) by José Tabuena, senior vice president of governance and compliance with PhyServe Physician Services, gives an example of over-reach.

“The objectives of auditing the legal department may vary but there are several key questions the internal auditor should consider:

 What are the goals and objectives of the legal department? Are they congruent with those of the organization?

 What is the legal function’s role in governance oversight (including managing risk and compliance)? Does that interface effectively with other control functions like compliance, risk, and internal audit?

 Can the efficiency and effectiveness of the legal processes be improved?”

Perhaps my reaction rests on competitiveness, but as a management consultant to legal departments for nearly a quarter of a century, I cannot imagine an internal auditor coming up with useful answers to such ultimate questions (See my post of Aug. 13, 2009; risk management compared to compliance, internal audit, and legal; and June 4, 2009: internal audits of law departments with 12 references.).