An article in ACC Docket, Vol. 30, June 2008 at 85, discusses General Electric’s Asia-Pacific legal group. It has about 140 lawyers located in 11 countries as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan. In only three locations do more than 10 lawyers sit in the same building complex “and even in these locations they are often divided into smaller groups in order to be closer to their clients.” Proximity to clients is very important.
The far-flung group uses software called Sametime (See my post of June 4, 2008: three technologies of IBM.). It displays the names of all of the company’s Asia-Pacific lawyers on the right-hand side of each person’s computer screen, showing the lawyers in green if they are at their desk and available to talk. How does it know that the lawyers are present and not on the phone?
The tool also allows instant messaging, which is frequently used by the far-flung lawyer group.
The indicators of availability and the informality of chatting both help to link together the lawyers.