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Separating litigators from business unit lawyers – a poor practice

For those law departments with several litigation management attorneys, a perennial issue revolves around the question of (a) should we keep the litigators together as a group or (b) should we assign the litigators to groups of business unit lawyer?

Note a common wrinkle. Often, litigators are handling legacy law suits that belong to no existing business unit. What should be done with those lawyers? A second wrinkle arises from the general distaste of litigators to handle only one kind of law suit. They like variety also and being in a group can mean a wider range of case types.

My leaning favors assigning litigators to business units. The message is that litigation is a business problem, not an activity in its own right. The litigators need to work with business people to resolve disputes as early and as effectively as possible. On their own, litigation can take on a life of its own; embedded with a client-supporting group of lawyers, litigation is a cost of business to be resolved promptly and cheaply. (See my posts on July 30, 2005 about dual reporting of specialists, July 31, 2005 about legal specialists and their reporting in general, and Aug. 5, 2005 about who should lead litigation.)

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