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Most in-house counsel neither manage nor lead others – they do work

Upwards of 80 percent of all US law departments have fewer than 10 lawyers. Even at the top of the range, assuming at least four or five direct reports to the general counsel, none of the other lawyers manage more than one or two lawyers and maybe they share management of a paralegal and a secretary. A sizeable chunk of in-house US lawyers manage not a single professional.

Yes, they may “manage” outside counsel, but that use of the term differs from “managing” direct reports. They may “manage up” but that is not what people management really means. Management means directing other people’s work, with all the supervisory responsibilities that entails, so if no one reports to you, you aren’t really a manager

Nor do lawyers in their circumscribed roles have much opportunity for leadership, at least if that term means bold moves, strategic shifts, and significant changes (See my post of June 11, 2008: leadership with 32 references.).

The fact is, a large portion of corporate attorneys neither manage people nor lead them — they work.

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