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New roads, filled; new lawyers, filled to capacity (the infinite legal sponge)

Picture a corporate lawyer as a huge sponge. As much legal water as the lawyer touches will be absorbed, until saturated (over-worked). The unexpressed outpouring of need for legal guidance in a company is infinite, and that’s not accounting for unrecognized legal needs.

If the lawyer-as-sponge metaphor holds true, well-managed law departments triage and focus their efforts to some degree under the Pareto principle (See my post of Sept. 4, 2005 on the 80/20 rule.) Work may expand to fill in-house counsels’ time, or the thirst of clients is unquenchable. During consulting interviews all corporate counsel bemoan their unmanageable workload.

They try to provide those legal services that are most important, while knowing sought-for needs let alone that latent needs go unmet. The levees on a rising river of need for legal counsel might at any time breach.

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