The new general counsel of DaimlerChrysler AG drives a Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart, Germany, and a Jeep in Auburn Hills, Mich. But Gerd Becht, who took over on Oct. 1, hopes to erase geographic distinctions in the auto giant’s law department.

Becht, 54, says his first task is to restructure the department along practice group lines from its old geographic divisions. The company’s lawyers overseas, particularly in regional outposts such as Mexico, Japan and China, were reporting only to local management, which meant isolation and redundancy.