Why we should care about the history of law department management

No one has written about the development over the past few decades of management practices in US law departments. We don’t know when operational methods first developed nor when they faded away. There are no historiographies of general counsel’s efforts to run their legal departments effectively. Bits and pieces of the past appear in the various books on law department management and in articles, but nothing comprehensive or historically inclined is available to my knowledge.

An article in the Acad. Mgt. Learning & Ed., March 2011 at 77, impressed me with its discussion of the relevance of the past as critical to the future. This blogger would very much enjoy trying to trace management in US law departments over the past decades, but children and mortgages and consulting pose some obstacles. It’s a shame we don’t know more about the history of management – even of a single aspect, such as outside counsel management. To know what works and what doesn’t has value, but deeper appreciation and creativity comes from familiarity with the antecedents and evolution of our knowledge.

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