In 2001, the 30 or so lawyers of Independence Blue Cross’s law department were organized into five practice groups. The lawyers in those practice groups didn’t communicate much or well with their colleagues in other practice groups, according to Corp. Legal Times, Vol. 15, Sept. 2005 at 34.
The general counsel Paul Tufano’s solution was to create cross-practice group teams, who focused on such projects as group contracts, medical policy, license agreements, and governance issues.
Not only do those teams (of about six lawyers) open the lines of communications across the practice-area silos, they add a career development twist. Only lawyers that don’t hold management positions are eligible to lead the teams.
This was a smart and useful solution. Most law departments have columns of dead air, into and out of which no information blows; most law departments have few promotions available, yet want to develop leadership in their more junior lawyers. Two problems, these, but neatly addressed by one management technique.