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Some dotted lines in decentralized law departments are thicker and closer than others

The other day a wise general counsel pointed out a nuance of reporting lines: his dotted line authority vis-à-vis the lawyers who did not report to him varies in “thickness” according to the subject. As to FCPA measures, with the lawyers who report solid line to a business unit executive, he described the line as bold and close together; in contrast, with settlements of trip-and-fall litigation the line was light and the dots far apart – the leash was very loose. With FCPA policy and practice he could tell even dotted-line reports what to do and enforce it. On lesser matters, he was advisory at best.

The font and proximity of each dot to the next, so to speak, makes visual a useful metaphor for different degrees of control and oversight both in decentralized and centralized reporting departments.

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