A manager in a law department first has to recognize that there is any problem (See my posts of Jan. 13, 2006 on a trio of consequences of managerial incompetence; and March 18, 2007 on general counsel who are bad managers.).
Then the manager has to decide that the identified problem justifies some action. After all, no good deed goes unpunished, every action has unintended consequences, and some things correct themselves (See my post of Aug. 22, 2006 on the economics of error.).
Thereafter, the manager has to choose what to do; there is no guarantee that the person chooses the best option (See my post of Sept. 22, 2006 on obstacles to choosing a law firm objectively; Jan. 17, 2006 on decision analysis tools; and March 18, 2005 on intuition and rationality.).
In the end, competent execution can trip up a law department manager. Managers have to follow through on whatever the general counsel decides to pursue (See my posts of March 17, 2006 on strategic plans; Jan. 4, 2006 on alternative fee arrangements; Jan. 27, 2006 on technology; and Dec. 5, 2005 on budgets.). Where problems crop up, all the recognition, decisions to act, and smart choices fritter away unless the manager carries out the plan.