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For some general counsel, law-department management ideas are not open source

As I reread my comments on a survey that asked law departments to list innovative practices their law firms had recently proposed or used (See my post of May 4, 2005.), I realized I might have been naïve. The list was tepid at best and stone cold from most of the respondent departments. To slam law firms for lack of innovation, as I did, might have been wrong.

Some general counsel may cherish a new idea hatched just for them and may not wish to share it with the entire world, especially competitors. They may not view their initiative as open source software, available for everyone to use, modify, and improve. A cost-saving trick or a productivity booster has a competitive advantage. Perhaps the same reasoning explains why some law departments do not identify the law firms who serve them most. Good ideas may be under-reported in the law department management world because some beneficiaries view their ideas as proprietary.

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