For organizations where knowledge workers preponderate, the quintessence of a law department, three components most commonly crop up as answers to the question of what is most important: leadership, talent and culture according to the Economist, Vol. 378, Jan. 21, 2006 at 11.
In well-run law departments, with their disaggregation of responsibility down the hierarchy, leadership skills have become increasingly important. (See my posts of Dec. 5, 2005 about male/female differences, Dec. 19, 2005 about leadership as a key goal, and Dec. 21, 2005 on emotional intelligence quotas of leaders.)
Talent management bids to overtake cost control in the next few years as the most pressing challenge of law departments. (See my dozens of posts in the category archive “Talent Management”.)
Culture, as I have written, remains the most illusive and intractable of the three (See my posts of Nov.16, 2005 with its two links and Dec. 21, 2005 about Phillips.). Having never done a consulting project where the objective was – directly stated – to change a law department’s culture, I can’t recommend a set of commendable practices. It is my belief that, just as happiness is the by-product of many decisions and actions, a supportive culture is the by-product of many law department initiatives and characteristics.