It is often said in blog posts, articles and conferences that general counsel of US companies are managerially advanced compared to general counsel of the rest of the world. “Them’s fightin’ words,” you could say! How someone could demonstrate such superiority stumps me.
If there were a dozen fundamental management outcomes or practices for law departments, and if you could persuade a representative group of general counsel in several countries to fill in objectively where their department stands on the scale, you might be able to muster such a claim. Not without difficulty, because optimal practices remain unproved. More likely, the claim arises from nationalistic fervor and another manifestation of American exceptionalism.
At the corporate level, I would not want to argue that American companies, by and large, display better management than do competitors elsewhere in the developed world. Again, to referee such a broad and contentious claim could keep legions of business school professors feuding and fighting for years.
To close, what about the match between management prowess in the law department and a company’s overall management capabilities? Assuming it were possible to measure both departments and companies on managerial effectiveness, one might expect some correlation within and across companies between the two levels of competence.