Disadvantages of having single points of contact for business units

Although I generally favor law departments that assign a lead lawyer for each significant business unit (sometimes called a single point of contact), such an alignment is not without problems (See my posts of Oct. 14, 2006 on SPOCs – single points of contact; and March 23, 2006 on SPOCs at PPG Industries.).

The amounts and type of work required by different business units may result in work imbalances. While one person or group is extremely busy, another may languish. The work for some business units may be deemed more interesting or attractive to lawyers so there is perception of unequal quality of work. Everyone wants to support the satellite division, none the roto-rooter.

A third drawback could be that a department, especially a smaller one, simply doesn’t have enough lawyers who fit the mold that is needed for the lead-lawyer position. Further, the single-point-of-contact arrangement may lead to delay or duplication of effort when the lead lawyer must collect and diagnose the issue, then reach out to a specialist lawyer. The solution to that problem usually comes down to direct calls from clients once they know whom to call. Finally, many lawyers enjoy being generalists, and don’t want to be slotted into a role where they have to give up some kinds of representation.

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