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Dual accountability between a law firm and a law department

We pay careful attention to what sellers – law firms – ought to do for buyers – law departments. An article in MIT Sloan Mgt. Rev., Vol. 49, Winter 2008 at 77, flips the normal view and discusses the obligations of buyers in a relationship. It introduces a two-way balanced scorecard, a technique a law department could adopt with its two or three principle law firms.

What basic obligations do law departments have to their law firms?

1. Clear communication of what needs to be done.
2. Prompt decisions.
3. Expectations of service quality that are clearly and consistently articulated.
4. Provision of the information the firm’s lawyers need.
5. Realistic demands (See my post of Jan. 10, 2008 on expectations of law departments.).
6. Timely, fair review and payment of bills.

It would make a difference if a law firm and a law department adopted and genuinely observed a joint accountability commitment.