Escalation threshold

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Organisational strategy: prohibit horizontal escalations to legal from other business, risk or operational functions below a certain rank (or, if your organisation is foresighted enough to have done away with ranks, below a certain role: say “team leader”.)

The idea is to condition junior people in other organizational units to escalate up their formal command chain. The theory is that if it is BAU, a more experienced person in the function should know, and should be responsible for knowing, and should give the guidance, making this a teachable moment within the silo. Only if that team leader doesn’t know, have you met the threshold for a horizontal escalation into legal.

If a continued proliferation of stupid questions from the team leader, you can manage that with performance management.


  • Reduce horizontal escalations as they are intrinsically wasteful
  • BAU legal knowledge lives in the operational function, not in legal.
  • The responsibility for training staff on the BAU lies with management of the operational function, not with the legal department
  • The legal purpose is more limited than you think it is: Legal is an escalation point for edge cases and emergencies. Just as you don’t consult a solicitor every day in your personal life, nor should you consult legal every day in your professional one.

See also