Ziggurats or Hershey Kisses? The distribution of work in law departments by sophistication

Ziggurats were pyramidal structures of the Babylonians. Each level moving upward was indented by terraces but the basic appearance was triangular. Hershey Kisses, by contrast, have broad bases but their width shrinks dramatically and unevenly toward their pointy top.

Many people describe the distribution of work done in-house as, well, zigguratish, with a base of routine work and less and less of more and more sophisticated work as you move up (See my post of Sept. 13, 2006: commodity legal work; and Dec. 5, 2005: upend the pyramid.). At the top of the pyramid is the notorious bet-the-company lawsuit, M&A monster, or governmental investigation (Feb. 28, 2006: exaggeration of frequency of BTCL.).

A more accurate depiction of what law departments deal with, are the famous Kisses. As compared to the ziggurat, much more of the work is familiar, only occasionally requiring research or creativity, within the comfort zone of the lawyers. Shrinking rapidly in frequency, a few nettlesome issues arise that call for specialized experience from outside.

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