Consider another finding from the First Law Department Operations Survey, published by InsideCounsel and Blickstein Group in cooperation with Huron Consulting and David Cambria, Director of Operations, Law Department, Aon Corporation. The survey obtained responses from 50 administrators, and among other questions asked them to choose from 10 attributes the three they thought were most important for managing law department operations.
The attributes chosen most were “law department knowledge” (67% put it in the top 3), “business acumen” (50%) and “business process” (50%). The leading choice, “law department knowledge,” differs from the other two in that you can’t possess it until you have worked for a while in a law department (See my post of Dec. 23, 2008: two thirds came from another law department or were promoted internally.). Indeed, that term encompasses all other attributes of administrators.
“Business acumen” resembles one of the most valued attributes of in-house counsel: knowledge of the client’s business. Here, though, I think the term means “think like a business person, not like a lawyer.” A later question found that about 10 of the respondents had either an MBA or were a CPA, so they bring educational oomph to the role.
“Business process” suggests understanding that many improvements come from process change as well as project management skills.
The next three attributes were chosen by about one out of three of the respondents as in their top three: “self motivation” (33%), “technological skill” (23%), and “financial acumen” (30%).
Perhaps another attribute that is important, but which wasn’t included in the choices, is “ability to lead and manage people.”