Pros and cons of legal teams, where members work from different locations

Virtual teams of lawyers, where not all of them are located in one place, occur more and more frequently, either with inside or outside counsel. An article in MIT Sloan Mgt. Rev., Vol. 50, Summer 2009 at 65, nicely lays out the benefits and costs of dispersed teams.

The opportunities include (1) “Heterogeneous knowledge resources,” (2) “Utilization of cost advantages,” (3) “Access to diverse skills and experience,” (4) “Knowledge about diverse markets,” and (5) “’Follow the sun’ working.”

Liabilities of virtual teams include (1) “Language barriers,” (2) “Cultural incompatibilities,” (3) “Difficulties establishing ‘common ground’,” (4) “Fewer synchronous face-to-face interactions,” and (5) “Good teamwork more difficult to achieve.”

Many legal departments, strung out around the globe, set up virtual teams for many purposes (See my post of Feb. 1, 2009: project teams of law departments with 39 references and 4 metaposts.). It’s good to have a sense of those teams’ strengths and weaknesses.

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