Common management initiatives as law departments grow by units of 10 lawyers

If we look at law departments by size in units of 10 lawyers, as in 10 to 20 lawyers, or 20 to 30 and so on, we see typical patterns of additional management activities.

At the 10-to-20 lawyer mark it is as common as not to have a law department administrator (See my post of April 8, 2005 on replacing an administrator with rotating lawyers; and Aug. 1, 2006 on various titles for the position.). In that same size bracket, many law departments install a matter management system (See my posts of Feb. 4, 2006 regarding an award-winning law department that did so; and Sept. 10, 2005 for some myths about the software systems.).

With 20+ lawyers, an increasing number of law departments have their attorneys track time (See my post of Aug. 31, 2005 on the New York City law department.). They also sort out business unit generalists and legal specialists.

Around 30 lawyers, it becomes common to have more than one site with lawyers, to start communities of practice (See my post of Sept. 10, 2005 on communities of interest.), and to have a robust group of paralegals and non-lawyer professionals.

Above 40 lawyers, it becomes more typical for departments to charge back time from their internal lawyers (See my posts of Aug. 31, 2005 on hypothetical bills to clients; and Oct. 30, 2005 on the market discipline this affords.).

In the 50+ lawyer range there are usually lawyers based outside the United States and there is probably a document management system in place (See my posts of Sept. 10, 2005 on the costs of that software; Dec. 20, 2005 on staff reductions that might accompany its installation; and Jan. 3, 2006 with a comparison to “unified content management.).

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