Delegation and some head-scratching about the application of that term

The mantra for managers: if work can be delegated to a lower-cost, capable person, strive to do so. While that sounds good, still I mused about the $200 an hour Associate General Counsel (using a fully-loaded cost per hour that shouldn’t take anyone back) who delegates a task to a $50 an hour paralegal. Let’s take for granted that the paralegal can do the task as well as it needs to be done.

Here’s the rub. If it takes the paralegal five hours ($250 cost to the company) but saves one hour of AGC time ($200 cost to the company), do we still approve the delegation? Yes, if the AGC can thereby generate more value during the saved hour, such as to concentrate and make progress on a tough legal problem.

Jobs that an experienced and more expensive lawyer can’t do any faster, such as Bates stamping, photocopying and indexing, are automatic candidates for delegation. Jobs that on a pure economics basis might be reserved from delegation should in theory still be sent down if the time saved above has a higher value than the hourly cost differential.

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