Centralised and distributed legal teams
Produced in partnership with Paul Gilbert of LBC Wise Counsel

The following In-house Advisor practice note produced in partnership with Paul Gilbert of LBC Wise Counsel provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Centralised and distributed legal teams

Centralised and distributed legal teams

It is a feature of commercial organisations, and even of national government policy, that authority and autonomy are devolved to local units, subsequently centralised and the cycle repeated. Driven by ideology and pragmatism—in both arenas—these changes often end up affecting the way in which in-house legal functions are structured; on rare occasions, general counsel have the luxury of making the choice for themselves. So, what are the different attributes of distributed legal functions contrasted with centralised ones?

It is worth starting with a note of caution—the way in which an organisation’s legal function is apparently organised, and the way in which it operates in practice, can be quite different. An organisation which is nominally centralised (ie all legal staff report within the legal function to the chief legal officer, and not to operational personnel local to the business/operation or locality) may not work that way in practice where lawyers work with very dominant characters in their unit or region. And likewise a nominally distributed function can behave more like a centralised one if the prevailing culture or characters within the organisation exert strong influence from the centre.

Centralised structures give the leaders of the legal function a close level of control over their in-house teams, as well as the external firms used. This has operational benefits—the way in which the team gives

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