A different use of “strategic planning” for a law department: do things effectively rather than anticipate the future

My sense of the term “strategic planning” has been an exercise by a legal department to look ahead a couple of years and try to anticipate evolving needs for legal services and skills. What might happen in the future and how can we best prepare for it? My recent posts on strategic planning by general counsel have explored aspects of this definition (See my post of Feb. 19, 2010: DuPont’s strategic litigation budget; March 1, 2010: complex strategic plan with 30 indicators; Sept. 28, 2010: strategic review of patent holdings; June 5, 2011: difficulty of foreseeing bulk of Dodd-Frank; June 23, 2011: linking risks to strategic objectives of the company; and Oct. 30, 2011: plan your technology path, if not your departmental path.).

An article in ACC Docket, Dec. 2011, at 70, however, led me to realize that the author uses the term “strategic planning” to mean something different, improving the effectiveness of the department. Future scenarios and contingencies play no part in his four steps, which mostly involve identifying and streamlining core competencies along with “setting specific goals and priorities for the law department.”

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