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Large law departments have scale advantages, but all is not smooth sailing

Large law departments (See my post of June 27, 2006 on relative sizes of law departments.), beneficiaries of division of labor, specialization, scale, and investment in technology, have the wind at their back. They have more lawyers and paralegals, so they can assign work that better matches a person’s skills. They have streams of similar work so those who do it become more expert (See my posts of Sept. 10, 2005 on specialist attorneys in large law departments.). They have the funds to invest in process improvements, knowledge management, software development and licenses.

For these reasons previous posts (See my posts of May 4, 2005 on TLS as a percentage of revenue declining as revenue increases; and Aug. 5, 2005 about quality of firms matched to the size of company; April 7, 2006 on procurement’s need for some economies of scale.) comment about the favorable winds in the sails of large departments.

What isn’t acknowledged as much is that big departments also face head winds. Big departments can be becalmed by infestations of procedures, the bluster of hierarchy, cross-currents from internal audit and compliance, drift wood that can clog offices for years, and waves of bureaucracy. Doldrums is too strong a word, but the huge ships that are large departments sometimes take a lot of wind and sail to move.