Published on:

A list of advantages of lists

Many times on this blog I have compiled lists but I have never sat back and thought about lists. For this post, a list doesn’t simply note elements, such as “the ten articles I wrote in 2010.” Here, I mean the result of someone thinking about a situation and coming up with multiple reasons or candidates or points – a cerebral and creative act, not merely a catalogue of facts. Sometimes a hybrid list involves finding facts and making decisions about them, e.g., “six best apps that help you keep track of your work”).

In the spirit, here are my thoughts on the advantages of lists. Lists:

Push you to think about a topic and explore its contours;

Remind you of what you should do or consider;

Serve as a repository for additional ideas that come along; and

Set some order to its contents, some priorities or relationships.

It turns out this blog has a myriad of lists. Laboriously and compulsively I tracked down the subset of those posts that listed only six items. In the first three years there were 21 (See my post of April 2, 2005: 6 metrics every litigation manager should implement; Oct. 4, 2005: 6 myths partners hold about law departments; Feb. 15, 2006: six ways being alone reduces management hassles; March 6, 2006: 6 generic forms of decision-making; May 10, 2006: 6 reasons why US-style litigation hasn’t taken root in the UK; July 5, 2006: 6 examples of interventions in law firms; Aug. 28, 2006: de Bono’s 6 hats; March 22, 2006: six solutions to silos; Feb. 24, 2007: 6 drivers of law firm profitability, but law departments can steer the wheel; March 23, 2007: 6 roles of the general counsel; June 14, 2007: 6 suggestions for better conference calls; July 2, 2007: 6 attributes to evaluate for inside lawyers; July 9, 2007: 6 ways to reduce tension between subordinates; July 29, 2007: 6 tips for meetings; Nov. 7, 2007: 6 more tips to reduce stress; Nov. 18, 2007: 6 fundamental concepts to improve law departments; April 27, 2008: 6 ways to protect the environment; Aug. 12, 2008: top 6 legal risks facing European companies; Aug. 27, 2008: 6 management priorities of Belgian GCs; Sept. 3, 2008: 6 suggestions for effective interviews; and Dec. 16, 2008: 6 techniques for your mediator;

During the next three years (2008-2011), 23 more lists of a half dozen appeared (See my post of Jan. 11, 2009: 6 key reasons to hire your own lawyer for an overseas office; March 20, 2009: 6 advantages of discounts off standard rates compared to other cost-saving efforts; March 31, 2009: 6 of the most common inadequacies of general counsel as people managers; April 5, 2009: 6 search methods to retrieve documents from knowledge bases; April 15, 2009: 6 attributes to assess external counsel; May 6, 2009: 6 alternative fee arrangements; May 28, 2009: 6 characteristics of wicked problems; June 29, 2009: six greatest challenges to making better use of productivity metrics; July 15, 2009: 6 disadvantages of a decentralized system where business leaders hire lawyers; July 30, 2009: 6 effects of geographic dispersion; Oct. 13, 2009: 6 differences between volume and rate discounts; Nov. 2, 2009: 6 practical steps to kill the kudzu of corporate policies; Nov. 12, 2009: 6 traits that inhibit change; Nov. 29, 2009: 6 basic steps based on talent for a general counsel to improve departmental productivity; March 9, 2010: 6 rules to control fees billed for intra-firm meetings; May 31, 2010: 6 most common targets for saving during 2009; June 1, 2010: 6 boundary conditions for alternative fee arrangements; June 21, 2010: six reasons to put off benchmarking; June 2, 2010: 6 ways of thinking need to mesh for an alternative fee arrangement; Aug. 25, 2010: 6 poor reasons why in-house candidates aren’t promoted to serve as the new general counsel; Sept. 22, 2010: 6 more arguments against competitive bidding processes; Nov. 23, 2010: 6 methods to reduce risk in fixed fee arrangements; and Dec. 7, 2010: 6 primary drivers of total legal spending.).