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Law, a support function, and functions supporting it (IT, HR, Finance, etc.)

Only the largest law departments can afford their own technical support, people on the legal budget who report to the department’s administrator and help maintain matter management systems, specialized databases and other legal-specific applications. Most depend on corporate IT to support even law specific applications (red-lining, document assembly, and others), not to mention the plumbing of networks, telecommunications, and the standard software of the company like word processing and e-mail (See my posts of March 26, 2005 about firms helping with departments’ technology and July 21, 2005 about extra services of firms.)

Many law departments have staff who handle invoices from outside vendors, but they also rely on a person from the CFO’s group to organize the more elaborate budgets and presentations. Indirectly, also, law departments depend on accounts payable to cut checks and record spending in the general ledger system.

Along with technical and financial support, law departments find support from Human Resources. Combining with their own people who conduct evaluations and some personnel management, law departments get more substantive strategy and tools from HR (See my posts of Aug. 24, 2005 on HR doing exit interviews and Nov. 8, 2005 about HR representatives to law.)

Some law departments have available corporate support functions beyond the big three: IT, finance and HR. For example, I have teamed on projects several times with internal consulting groups, who assigned one of their members to the law department’s project. Another time, an internal facilitator guided the project team through a series of meetings.

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