A law department promulgates policies on when its lawyers should be involved in decisions

A fascinating article in MIT Sloan Mgt. Rev., Vol. 50, Winter 2009 at 38, explains network analysis as a tool to elucidate decision-making.

One case study describes a company that had abnormally high levels of collaboration on decisions. Why? “The network analysis and follow-up interviews revealed that the company’s legal department frequently participated in routine decisions. There were two reasons for this: first, the company had many new employees who were unclear about when to involve lawyers; and second, the organization was particularly cautious because it had previously been sanctioned by the Food and Drug Administration for mistakes a new product filings.” Once burned, forever shy, but the resulting legal caution gummed up the works.

After the network analysis study turned up the over-involvement of in-house lawyers, “the legal department issued new guidelines on a range of routine decisions, which soon led to a reduction in the number of routine interactions.”

I have never heard of a law department that has issued guidelines for when its lawyers should be involved in decisions, but that kind of role and scope limitation is analogous to policies that decree what kinds of agreements need attorney review (See my post of May 5, 2006: contracts with 15 references.).

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