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Eras of law-department management

The phrase “Whig history” means someone looks at the past and sees an inevitable progression toward the present, as if each step of change were preordained. Not from this seat, I hope, but I can still look pan-optically at law-departments for their management history — and future (See also Deborah A. DeMott, “The Discrete Roles of General Counsel” 74 Fordham Law Review 955-981 (2005) for a retrospective history of law departments).

Magisterially, I propose these eras:

1980’s: building the in-house law function and achieving recognition (ACCA, Corporate Legal Times)

1990’s: technology, such as matter management systems, and benchmarks, such as surveys and books

Late 1990’s: cost control, which has been mostly outside-counsel cost management

Early 2000’s: compliance, SOX, and risk management

Mid 2000’s: talent, and how best to hire, retain, motivate the best; along with knowledge management

2010’s: cognitive lawyering (See my post of Feb. 15, 2006 and the posts cited there.)