Mapping law-department management concepts

As I shape a blog post, I spend a moment trying to fit the current item into the grander scheme of things. I am convinced that every idea about how to operate a law department hovers loosely in a multi-dimensional cluster of related ideas.

Having accumulated and organized my posts on internal budgets of law departments (See my post of Sept. 9, 2008: internal budgets parts I; and Sept. 12, 2008: internal budgets part II), let me illustrate this conviction by using internal budgets to outline how all concepts float in a hierarchy of concepts.

Above budgets, at a more encompassing level higher in the hierarchy, are several concepts that draw on budgets, such as client satisfaction, cost control, strategic planning, management reporting, and talent management. Each of these concepts represents a larger sphere of ideas and subsumes internal budgets.

Likewise, lower in the hierarchy, other concepts exist below internal budgets, meaning they are components of budgets and are more granular. For example, pay bands, spreadsheets, tuition reimbursement, timeframes for preparation and review, data collection, general ledger accounts, and currency conversion.

On a similar level or parallel to internal budgets, in terms of relations between concepts, are others, such as external budgets, budget benchmarks, reserves, and off-budget categories.

Orthogonal to internal budgets, meaning concepts that relate as cousins but are not immediate family, we can spot such topics as charge backs to client groups of amounts paid by the legal department, budget reductions and savings techniques, fully-loaded cost per lawyer, and balanced scorecards. The array of concepts makes sense to me (See my post of March 16, 2006: no taxonomy of law-department concepts for managers.).

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