The structure of a law department and its operations reflects a design evolved over time, based loosely on fundamental ideologies
“All design can be understood as ideology embodied.” This aphoristic quote, from Tim Wu, The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires (Knopf 2010) at 201, refers to the architecture – the design – of the Internet. Decentralized, open, tolerant of all uses, multi-layered, opposed to bigness, a pure platform – these ideologies made their way into the creation and development of the Internet. Wu fears that it, like the preceding fundamental communication technologies of phones, radio, TV, movies, and cable, will succumb to domination by a cabal of huge corporations in cahoots with the government.
The design of a law department reflects underlying ideologies embodied in it during its history. The role and relative importance of specialist lawyers; integration with the business; variable costs of law firms; global footprint; respect and centrality of role, the view of clients; scope of services – all these fundamental beliefs of what makes internal legal services effective are baked into the design, the structure, of the law department.