Descriptions of competencies for law department lawyers

John Deere’ law department operates with a competency model, but the source of this statement, “Leading Practices in Job Titles for In-House Lawyers: What Companies are Doing” (Assoc. Corp. Counsel, Aug. 2005 at 14), offers no further details.

More detail comes from Boeing’s law department, which has publicized its set of skill and leadership competencies. Its key competency areas include: “judgment, communication, technical skills/knowledge; integrity, quality/productivity, customer satisfaction, people working together, corporate citizenship, enhanced shareholder value, and leadership.”

My notion of a competency embraces a displayed, teachable capability of an individual, so writing, analysis, creativity, and self-discipline are competencies. “Enhanced shareholder value” results, one hopes, from the skilful application by many people of multiple competencies. To the same point, “customer satisfaction” rises or falls because lawyers apply appropriate competencies in a skilful manner, but it is not a competency. I guess “corporate citizenship” can be trained and leads to identifiable behavior – it’s a competency.

Boeing has combined competencies with goals and desirable behavior. As a desired behavior, “integrity” just doesn’t seem to be in the same category as the other competencies. The incongruity arises because you can’t teach basic integrity? (See my post of March 13, 2006 about Philip Morris International and its three substantive law department competencies.)

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