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Rotations of lawyers – from specialist to generalist – at Philips

In mid-2004 PLC, with Howrey Simon Arnold & White, organized a Global Counselors’ College. At the College, Peter Plompen, the lead in-house counsel on competition matters at Philips, explained some of the things his group does to reduce anti-trust mistakes (See my post of April 13, 2006 on how they train clients.)

Somewhat confusingly, a summary of his comments states: “Each new lawyer spends two years in a specialist group before being posted to a generalist role in a divisional or regional department.” The summary states that Plompen said, ‘these lawyers, with at least some knowledge of anti-trust, become our network, they are our first aid kit, so to speak’”. Whether each new lawyer at Philips rotates through two years of anti-trust training, or through two years of some specialist training is not clear, but the basic idea of a training rotation to seed the generalist business ranks with specialist knowledge makes sense. US law departments, though, rarely hire new lawyers who are junior enough to justify a training rotation. Instead, they hire experienced lawyers who continue on in their area of specialization.