The Midwest fights back…
ALM’s Corporate Counsel magazine has announced that Ford Motor Company has won its “Best Legal Department” competition. Some key reasons:
The nearly 300 in-house lawyers worldwide at Ford were cited for their teamwork in partnering with company managers, engineers, media advisors and outside counsel to tackle litigation challenges, such as the class action and personal injury suits related to the safety of Ford’s Crown Victoria police cruisers. The department’s hands-on approach to legal affairs includes an in-house group that directs its appellate docket and an innovative Intellectual Property group that not only actively protects Ford’s patents and trademarks, but also develops and markets products based on those patents.
More from CC here. Beyond mere technical competence and effectiveness, Ford was noted for efforts in the areas of diversity and pro bono outreach. Notably, 40% of Ford’s lawyers are women.
The legal departments of BellSouth, Du Pont and Microsoft were the other finalists.
Ford’s GC David Leitch has hit the ground running (he’s been in the job about a year) and obviously inherited a great group. He told CC that:
… he’s still settling into the job. He hasn’t made many changes â€” he streamlined administration a bit, but kept his people in place â€” and he doesn’t think he needs to. Asked to assess his crew, Leitch sounds like a man who broke open a fortune cookie and pulled out a $100 bill. “I’m really quite surprised,” he says, “and would not have predicted how good this legal department is.”
As they could say in The Glass House this morning about the companies that thought they could best Ford in this competition:
Professional Driver, closed course, do not attempt.