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.)