Over the past 20 years, ten breakthrough developments in law department management

While on vacation, and musing over my 20-year career consulting to general counsel, I nominate these ten management changes as the most significant. For the sake of the hot-stove league, I have ranked them in declining order of importance. Go ahead, e-mail me your critiques and your nominees!

  1. Financial accountability expected of general counsel, such as budgets, periodic reporting on expenses, benchmarking, management of outside counsel, and the incursions of the procurement function
  2. Buyer-vendor relations with outside counsel, where some are viewed more as transactional vendors and value for money has become a common refrain (See also convergence and financial accountability)
  3. Tools for managing discovery and production of documents, which has admittedly been a wave smashing the shore in the last five years
  4. Expansion and integration with legal of compliance functions
  5. Convergence of law firms, by which I mean the deliberate effort to shuck many firms and send work to a relatively few firms
  6. Matter management systems for everyone, not just big departments or those that can roll their own
  7. Electronic billing and analysis of invoices, which includes development of the LEDES standards and the coupling of matter management and e-billing
  8. Benchmarking data generally available and more relied on and compared to
  9. Fixed fee billing arrangements for nearly every kind of legal service that is done by law firms
  10. Specialist lawyers in-house at the level of law firm partners

Other candidates could be the global expansion of legal departments and the elaborated cottage industry of service providers to law departments. In the next five years, my predictions for developments that might join this list include offshoring, online networks for lawyers, and concept-search-and-organization software

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