An update on the unicorn of law department management, best practices

Best practices do not exist, despite what many general counsel would like to believe. A few years ago I collected a few posts on “best practices,” but since then there have been two dozen more (See my post of June 6, 2006: best practices with 4 references).

I have organized them into three categories: me railing against the concept, others advocating best practices in various areas, and general comments about optimal practices.

Rees Railing against Best Practices. Leave it to me to pound the notion of “best practices” (See my post of March 4, 2008: three thoughts against best practices; Nov. 27, 2007: best practices ride roughshod over context; Sept. 22, 2008: post-modernist critiques; Feb. 6, 2007: all processes have pros and cons, so no best practices; Aug. 22, 2006: Kaizen challenges; and Nov. 11, 2007: known unknowns and unknown unknowns.). My rejection of best practices encompasses other points (See my post of Jan. 14, 2007: casual benchmarking does not disclose practices; Jan. 13, 2008: benchmark “worst practices”; Jan. 2, 2009: the pathology of trends fabricates best practices; Nov. 26, 2006: memes represent practices; and Nov. 27, 2007: how-to’s obliquely recognize best practices.).

Advocates of Best Practices. Others have ignored my attacks and have unhesitatingly referred to best practices in a variety of contexts (See my post of Feb. 6, 2009: compliance practices; Feb. 7, 2009: litigation hold practices; March 20, 2007: procurement talent management; April 22, 2007: meetings; Sept. 4, 2006: diversity practices; July 16, 2007: diversity; and Nov. 19, 2007: global law departments.).

Absence of Even Pretenders to be Best Practices. Quite a few posts have explicitly noted conflicting views on practices, let alone putative best practices (See my post of June 7, 2006: dueling best practices; July 27, 2007: no rules for decision empowerment; Aug. 5, 2008: no recognized optimals for assigning responsibilities; Jan. 9, 2009: balance between family culture and professional reserve; Dec. 12, 2007: use junior associates or not; and Aug. 30, 2006: scope of a law department’s responsibilities.).

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