Strategic plans for legal departments revisited on length and implementation

The Practical Law J., Vol. 1, Nov. 2009 at 70, describes several aspects of the 100-lawyer department of Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), primarily those related to its current strategic plan (See my post of June 25, 2008: strategic plan with 10 references.).

My first observation is that CSC’s legal department has a three-year strategic plan, “endorsed by CEO Mike Laphen.” If the CEO reviews and approves a legal group’s plan, the plan takes on much more significance and its goals are likely baked into some personal objectives of key lawyers.

I have scoffed at a five-year plan for a legal department, but at the same time I believe that if you take the time to prepare a plan you realistically need a horizon of more than one year (See my post of Jan. 8, 2009: Borealis’s five year plan.). Three years might be the most plausible time period for achieving change (See my post of July 26, 2008: InBev’s three-year plan; Dec. 29, 2008 #1: business plan for one year; strategic plan for multiple years; Jan. 23, 2009: patent on a law department process for strategic planning; July 4, 2009: online game to prepare a strategic plan; and Oct. 4, 2009: Novartis’ strategic plan for legal.).

The general counsel of CSC has tasked the department’s Global Managing Attorney (Tres Lorton) with lead responsibility for implementing the strategic plan and two other senior managers are part of Lorton’s team. If you want to make something happen, such as a multi-part strategic plan, designate one person to be in charge and hold that person accountable.

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