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Delegation of work within a law department

Delegate! Everyone hears that exhortation; most in-house lawyers find delegation hard to do well. The reputed advantages of delegation are self-evident (See my post of Nov. 7, 2007: delegation alleviates stress; Nov. 6, 2006: delegation increases efficiency; and Dec. 3, 2007: an advantage of larger law departments.) but translation of theory into practice falls short (See my post of Aug. 2, 2006: challenges of delegation; May 23, 2008 #4: information theory and loss of information through delegation; and March 9, 2007: why attorneys are reluctant to pass down work.).

Also hard to do is to pin down which entries on this blog pertain specifically to the notion of delegation within a legal team (See my post of Aug. 26, 2006: a definition of “delegation”; and May 16, 2007: delegable tasks.).

The most closely related posts refer to the assignment of tasks to another, more junior person within the legal department (See my post of April 17, 2007: delegating contracts work; Oct. 20, 2005: delegating budget responsibility; Aug. 26, 2005: measuring delegation to paralegals; March 25, 2005: delegating to interns; Sept. 5, 2007: shifting work to administrative assistants; and May 16, 2007: long-term cost reductions through extensive delegation.).

My difficulty with compiling this embedded metapost stems from how hard it is to decide where to draw the line. Delegation of work in a law department touches on many broad topics. For example, everyday tasks are promising candidates for delegation (See my post of June 6, 2008: commodity, standardized and routine work; Sept. 13, 2006: commodity legal work with 5 references.)

Some of the benefits of knowledge management show up in delegable tasks. Levels and support staff in departments bears on delegation as does the notion of quasi-legal work, which clients should do (See my post of April 9, 2008: quasi-legal tasks with 14 references.)

Offshoring constitutes still another manifestation of work delegation (See my post of Dec. 16, 2007: offshoring with 18 references.).

Indeed, whenever an in-house lawyer hires a law firm, that person has delegated work. For this post, I stuck with the narrower instances of delegation down within a department.