The most useful material on law departments captures actual practices with clear terms

Articles where the author grandly describes what law departments OUGHT to do more than what any real law department ACTUALLY does leave me cold. Anyone can wax eloquent about the elysian culture of a law department or joining hands and dancing with law firms or don’t-we-wish personnel policies but managers hard pressed by real life need tools they can handle, not fanciful chimeras. Anyone can moon over technology’s promise and the edification of mission statements, and pour out the purple prose of automation transforming the practice of law. Ugh.

My preference is to unearth a practice in a real law department, or statistics from of a survey of many law departments, or a statement by an actual, clay-footed human being and write something cogent about that level of reality.

To the rejoinder that a vision of the ideal will inspire us, I agree that managers need a grail, but they take secular steps one at a time.

Along with a heavy anchor to real life, I like precision. One of my objectives has been to try to bring some rigor to terms that are often bandied about and yet deserve definition (See my posts of Dec. 5, 2007 with a summary of 64 terms defined and other observations.). If we could speak with a shared understanding of important concepts and if those concepts are firmly grounded in pragmatic practices, we will all improve more quickly.

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