Imagine the slope on the left side of the normal bell curve. Now plot along the base sizes of departments, with a solo lawyer at the far left, 5 lawyers to the right a bit, 10 lawyers just where the curve starts rising, 20 lawyers midway up the curve and 40+ lawyers near the top of the curve.
My hypothesis is that small departments, those under five lawyers, struggle just to keep their heads above the waters of work and rarely devise a new management method. Mid-size departments can adopt methods from elsewhere, but the fertile agar dish of management sits in the change labs of the largest departments. With 30, 40, 50 or more lawyers, a department can invest time, people, and funds in coming up with a new form of evaluation, a variation on the classic Kaplan-Norton balanced scorecard, a pooling of real estate paralegals, a client satisfaction program, a benchmark consortium.
Size brings enough lawsuits of a particular kind that the department can look at discovery management or national coordinating counsel or task-based billing. Size of a law department correlates to size of company, which means more infrastructure – think of strategic planning groups and corporate universities – and the managerial juices can percolate to the law department.
When looking for the source of law department change and exploration, size matters.