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Is there something unique about legal departments not possessed by other support functions?

“Unlike other departments that have specific deliverables unique to that department, the legal department’s ‘deliverable’ is to advocate on behalf of and address the issues of other departments.” With this puzzling assertion in the ACC Docket, March 2012 at 35, perhaps the author means that IT has sole responsibility to keep everyone’s networks and computers running, HR looks after employees, and Finance alone delivers the company’s numbers. Legal, the authors seem to be saying, responds to the other support functions by enabling their unique activities.

I don’t buy that distinction. At least IT and HR would argue that their primary goal is to enable the business to progress (including support functions such as law). If the legal department needs software, IT helps; if the legal department has a nettlesome employee issue, HR helps; if analysis of data about outside counsel spend is needed, Finance helps out. What makes the legal department any different?

On the other side, only the law department handles litigation, only it pulls together Board materials, and only it makes SEC filings. Like other support departments, those “deliverables” of the lawyers are unique to it.

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