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COVID-19 Techniques — Status Reports

Status reports, where lawyers periodically summarize the progress they have made on their key matters, have been a staple for years of large law departments. Often an intermediary lawyer curates and summarizes lower-level reports into a report to the general counsel.

During the pandemic, GCs might institute status reports, but tweak them. The goal would be to minimize the work of the lawyers preparing the reports but maximize the usefulness of the reports to the managing lawyers. One approach is to ask people to summarize what they have done by how much time they spent. They would not describe what they did but rather the progress they made on a major contract, a transaction, or significant counseling. A section of the report should call out early signs of legal issues. Mostly, those who receive status reports should try to respond with a question or comment or two for everyone.

It is dispiriting to hear nothing when a status report is sent. After a while, preparation of the report can become moot and simply another administrative task to be completed quickly. Also, for many lawyers, not much changes from week to week or what they are working on. It’s a challenge to keep reporting fresh and have people thinking about the goal: spreading the word about accomplishments and alerting higher-ups to emerging issues.

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