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Key areas of focus when two law departments merge

In an article about how to integrate two law departments when their companies merge, there is a list of “Twenty-Five Key Areas of Focus for Legal Department Integration.” The list appears in the ACC Docket, Nov. 2011 at 62. The first eight areas highlight management of the operations of the merged department, three more areas cover a significant component of operations and administration, but the remaining 14 all concern substantive legal services that need to be addressed.

What I consider squarely in the realm of managing the law department would be these eight, as listed: “legal personnel, knowledge management, budget and forecast, technology support, invoice management, records retention, outside counsel management, and litigation management.” Three areas listed after them involve a fair amount of law department management. “Patents, trademarks and other intellectual property, forms and templates, and contract management” all straddle operational issues as well as the provision of legal services. The remaining checklist items, the majority on the list, go to a general diagnosis of the needs of the merged company for various legal services, not to how the merged department functions and is managed.

Aside from that, not on the list are some operations topics that a general counsel of a merged law department ought to consider: facilities, locations of lawyers, reporting structure, and software.

The most painful part of a consolidation would be layoffs (See my post of Jan. 16, 2009: layoffs after mergers with 9 references.). A couple of posts have shown up subsequently (See my post of April 18, 2009: lawyers in Bank of America’s merged law departments must reapply for jobs; and Aug. 11, 2011: ratio of spin-offs to mergers.).

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