Before he became Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, Jon Leibowitz served as one of the agency’s commissioners. I had the good fortune to meet with him and his incredible staff attorneys from time to time, mostly to advocate for policies that would benefit intellectual property holders. The first several times we met, he ended the meeting by asking, “Christine, why are you doing this? What’s in this for you?” And, I would always answer, “Nothing, I’m just doing this because it’s the right thing to do.”
If your company is entirely focused on profit and bottom line, and many are, there may be no appetite for corporate counsel’s involvement in shaping policy at all. Keeping an eye on industry developments and following the leadership of others in the industry may be a perfectly adequate approach in such a case.
Alternatively, in non-profit, philanthropic, scientific or heavily regulated industries, where policy, and more specifically, legislation, can make or break an entity, the goal may include both making good policy and preventing bad policy. Again, the positioning depends entirely on context and strategy, two topics I have discussed in other articles in this series.