Rees Morrison’s Morsels #120 – additions to earlier posts and short takes

For headcount calculations, sometimes a “lawyer” isn’t a “lawyer.” Discussing a consolidated legal department, a sidebar in Mark Prebble, Managing In-House Legal Services: Providing High Value Support for Your Organisation (Thorogood 2009) at 41, mentioned how hard it was to ascertain what internal legal resources were already in place across nearly 30 countries. “It was also difficult to determine which ‘lawyers’ were in fact professionally qualified within their jurisdictions and which were other legal specialists.” The definition and qualifications of a “lawyer” differs greatly by jurisdiction.

Rule of thumb for panel selections. “If you are putting together a panel, it is probably not worth approaching more firms than twice the number you expect to end up with.” That is the guideline suggested in Mark Prebble, Managing In-House Legal Services: Providing High Value Support for Your Organisation (Thorogood 2009) at 41, without further explanation (See my post of April 18, 2009: law firm panels with 6 references.).

Another two publications on legal department management. Several posts have drawn on points made in Mark Prebble, Managing In-House Legal Services: Providing High Value Support for Your Organisation (Thorogood 2009). The “special briefing” covers many aspects of managing a legal team, mostly from the British standpoint. An earlier briefing by the same publisher is by Barry O’Meara, which I referred to before (See my post of Feb. 10, 2007 #3: Insights into Successfully Managing the In-House Legal Function, then noted as published by Hawksmere in 2000.).

The brain chain and complexity of work defined by the number of law firms that can handle it. Phillip Pesek, general counsel of Deltic Timber, phil_pesek@deltic.com wrote an article about managing outside counsel fees for the ACC Docket, Vol. 26, Nov. 2008 at 106. Pesek defined “commodity legal work” as “routine, basic legal work that just about any good law firm in the country can adequately handle.” It’s at the bottom of the brain chain. His definition gave me another clue for how to define complexity of legal work: the more complex, the few law firms can handle it adequately (See my post of Aug. 24, 2009: hard-to-define “legal complexity.).

“The billable hour is timing the high jump.” This quotation, from Michael Williams, the General Counsel of Sony Electronics North America struck me as particularly clever and apt. If height is quality of performance, no one cares how long it takes the jumper to race up and leap to that height.

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