As a law department grows, the people demands on its managers grow faster

The bigger the law department, the more of his or her time a general counsel has to spend on personnel issues. You might think that with large law departments, more people are comfortably slotted into the right level and type of work for them. You might think an HR person assigned to support the department would offload much of the paperwork. You might think the administrator and administrator’s staff would absorb additional people-management tasks. Unfortunately, even with al that firepower, I suspect that the people demands grow faster as a law department adds people.

By this I mean that there are more divergent personalities, more invidious comparisons of titles or bonuses or perquisites, more desires to move around and take on different responsibilities – in short, more potential for jockeying and friction. People issues – whom to promote, whom to stroke, whom to deliver bad news to – may not expand exponentially with size but they certainly rise at a faster-than-linear pace.

The crucial and difficult decisions about promotions and responsibilities and career paths come to rest on the desk of the general counsel.

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