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Law department management is most importantly about relations between people

“No matter how we might deny it, relationship issues are the most difficult problems we face in business.” The quote comes from Charles S. Jacobs, Management Rewired (Penguin 2009) at 49.

I tend to think of the challenges of managing a group of in-house lawyers and staff as intellectual problems: how to deliver legal advice well, how to design the department and its operations, how to spend budgets wisely. Jacobs reminds me and all of us that people are number one, by far, and that their issues can be most intractable and frustrating.

The head patent lawyer dislikes the commercial lawyer for the widget group. The junior corporate lawyer has obvious ambitions and disrespects the lawyer she reports to. The HR lawyer jokes around all the time, to the extreme irritation of the all-business paralegal. On an on, the frictions and fractiousness of humans in close and constant contact grey the hairs of managers.

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