Corporate Counsel Best Legal Departments of 2006
Winner of Corporate Counsel's Best Legal Department Award
More than 20 other Fortune 500 legal departments filled out our lengthy, wide-ranging Best Legal Department questionnaire that asked about their work in 2004 and 2005. Some departments sported remarkable diversity, others boasted wonderful pro bono programs, or displayed deft management of outside counsel. We decided to honor three departments as runners-up. But the six judges were unanimous about the winner: None of the other entries impressed us as deeply or in so many ways as Ford.
Read more > View winner acceptance speech >
The Three runner-up law departments, in no particular order:
Change may soon be afoot in the legal department at BellSouth Corp. In March, AT&T Corp. announced plans to acquire the Atlanta-based telecommunications company. But after reviewing BellSouth's application for Best Legal Department, we hope that some things will stay the same. Namely, that the company's in-house counsel will continue to do a lot of their own litigating; and that the lawyers and staff will still take part in the department's novel and ambitious pro bono programs, which made the former Baby Bell a standout among our entries.
Read more >
We couldn't help but be impressed with E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. when we reviewed its application for Best Legal Department. The Wilmington-based chemical giant has set the standard for minority representation, among both its in-house attorneys and outside counsel. And over the years it's continued to up the ante. But DuPont isn't a one-note legal department; we were impressed by its well-established, pioneering partnerships with a select group of preferred law firm providers, and its ability to continually refine that relationship.
Read more >
It isn't easy to turn an ocean liner. But Microsoft Corp.'s lawyers have changed the direction of the mother ship. After years of knockdown litigation, the law department has settled a remarkable number of big suits. But we're not honoring it as a finalist just because the attorneys have learned to beat swords into contracts. Their achievement is greater than that: They're at the center of a companywide strategy to turn adversaries into partners, and, in doing so, improve relations with the industry and its regulators.
Read more >