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The marketing of law departments

A handful of law departments are drenched in ink. Much in the news, for example, is FMC Technologies, because of the prominence and innovativeness of its general counsel, Jeffrey Carr (See my posts of Oct. 24, 2005 about litigation counsel paying for local counsel; July 21, 2005 about rating law firms; and Oct. 26, 2005 about lawyers as contract managers.). Often, the spotlight law departments perform together (See my post of July 21, 2005 about Microsoft, GM and Cisco.). Other law departments that are often in the public eye include:

Microsoft (See my posts of Nov. 3, 2005 on e-billing; Nov. 11, 2005 on patent litigation; Aug. 3, 2005 on patent rates; Aug. 27, 2005 on Government Relations; and Jan. 4, 2006 on dealing with firms across boarders.);
Cisco (See my posts of Sept. 14, 2005 about its self-service model; Sept. 21, 2005 on e-discovery; Nov. 24, 2005 on litigation document infrastructure; Dec. 5, 2005 on virtual teams of law firms; and June 16, 2006 about electronic signatures.);

GE (See my posts of May 7, 2006 about reporting; April 7, 2006 about procurement; Sept. 4, 2005 regarding online auctions; July 31, 2005 on Six Sigma; July 31, 2005 on legal specialists; Jan. 1, 2006 on decentralized reporting; and April 4, 2006 on diversity.); and

DuPont, the grandest publicity hound in the pound (See my posts of April 2, 2005 about its litigation metrics; Sept. 5, 2005 about data on non-equity partners; Feb. 8, 2006 on recoveries; and March 15, 2006 on savings from early case assessment.).

What accounts for departments becoming celebrities? A general counsel who speaks to reporters (See my post of Dec. 19, 2005 that quotes Brad Smith of Microsoft and May 24, 2005 that quotes Mark Chandler of Cisco.) and champions a vision. A general counsel who is willing to speak at conferences (See my post of Jan. 25, 2006 about FMC and budget timetables.) and write articles (See my post of Oct. 24, 2005 about FMC and its use of decision trees.). A general counsel who takes management seriously (See my post of May 16, 2006 about Microsoft and benchmarking.) and who takes positions in associations. What also helps is size and brand recognition.