When forced to reduce staff, seven changes a law department needs from its clients

Law departments in these parlous times suffer layoffs. True, the volume of work may decline as sales slump, but headcount reductions often do not correspond to reductions in workload. If not, if there are fewer lawyers to do essentially the same amount of work, then clients need to change some of their expectations and roles. Clients will need to do a better job:

  1. gathering documents before calling for legal review;
  2. avoiding asking lawyers to do quasi-legal work;
  3. setting priorities on projects and accepting some priority setting by the lawyers among equal-rank clients;
  4. encouraging their employees to take training in legal-issue spotting and preventive law;
    using self-service materials (See my post of May 18, 2008: self service with 7 references.).
  5. bringing lawyers into activities on a timely basis and not wasting their time in low-value meetings;
  6. lowering expectations of turnaround or even responsiveness; and
  7. accepting larger outside counsel bills.

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