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In-house legal teams and alignment with clients

To be synchronized with their clients, shadows of the business executives moving hand-in-hand toward the company’s efforts – that is alignment for a law department (See my posts of Sept. 21, 2005: activities aligned with client goals; and May 10, 2006: an important Canadian-department goal.). Profiles of law departments often highlight their efforts at alignment (See my posts of Aug. 2, 2006: Qualcomm; and March 28, 2006: PPG.).

Although frequently invoked, the term “alignment” finds few definitions. The purest version finds lawyers reporting to business unit heads (See my posts of May 30, 2005: privilege risk of lawyers reporting to non-lawyers; July 11, 2005: AXA and decentralized reporting.).

Even without a consensual meaning, observers note obstacles to alignment as well as how to achieve it (See my posts of March 31, 2007: road blocks to alignment; April 16, 2007: carrying alignment too far; July 14, 2005: “alignment chart;” and Nov. 8, 2007: eight suggestions for alignment.).

Alignment ripples through many aspects of law department management (See my posts Dec. 21, 2006: culture; May 23, 2008: core competencies; Aug. 3, 2005: mission statements; Aug. 27, 2005: double-solid line matrix reporting; and May 23, 2007: bonuses.).

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