Articles Posted in Applying Management Disciplines to the Legal Function


The Point

Two surveys of general counsel reported in December offer identical descriptions of the budget crisis facing corporate Legal departments in 2023:

(1) From the legal system: most face increasing demands, and

(2) From the C-Suite: most face cost reduction demands.

In such circumstances, executive management usually asks Legal for some measure of cost discipline similar to what they ask of other corporate functions and business units. Too often, Legal reacts by threatening a game of “chicken” with the business side: give us the funding we want, or the company faces potentially catastrophic risk.

C-Suites facing intransigence from Legal should consider a tool used where an employee’s performance has slumped, but summary dismissal would be premature: a performance improvement plan. Continue reading


The Point

Since I first met him 5 years ago, I’ve come to regard Mark Cohen, along with the UK’s Richard Susskind, as one of the world’s two leading authorities on the legal profession’s future. Here’s what he wrote in his most recent regular column for Forbes, entitled “Law’s Delayed Future” (subscription required):

“The industry is a digital laggard, misaligned with the needs of business and society … Law’s future has been delayed by the legal profession, not by the absence of tools, resources, and a digital transformation roadmap ….

If lawyers do not lead the legal function’s future, business will … The legal function … will be a proactive,  positive force in the enterprise, not a reactive, ‘department of no'”. Continue reading


The Point

1. Corporate Legal has a lot more work to do than budget to do it with.

2. In-house and in law firms, corporate Legal persists in its decades-long emphasis on custom work, done manually by one or more attorneys, in response to a one-off request.

3. Corporate Legal avoids adoption of process-based systems and related technologies needed to increase its capabilities at scale.

4. Absent an unlimited budget, Legal’s current practice of assigning more lawyers from law firms or in-house, as demands on corporate Legal increase, is not sustainable.

5. C-suite executives and business owners need to stop exempting corporate Legal from common sense standards that every other function has to meet, and start holding it accountable to core management disciplines. Continue reading

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