Laws permeate the operations of companies, as do regulations, ordinances, agency procedures, judicial decisions, and many other forms of juristic governmental dictates. Let’s just call them all “laws.” Given the pervasiveness of laws in a company’s operations, what should be the scope responsibility for observance of them sought from the eponymous department?
Obedience to laws hardly falls completely on the law department. Rather, the weight of day-to-day compliance falls to managers and specialists outside that department (See my posts of Aug. 30, 2006: Industrial Relations; April 23, 2006: Insurance or Risk Management; May 10, 2006: Human Resources; Nov. 10, 2007: Compliance; Dec. 22, 2005: Ethics and references cited; and Oct. 16, 2006: generally on “legalistic units.”). Many, many people throughout a company respond to the laws every day and they are the first line of defense.
Lawyers in the company should give advice and help with interpretation, but the onus of responsibility for behaving legally lies squarely on others in the company.