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Pros and cons of legal teams, where members work from different locations

Virtual teams of lawyers, where not all of them are located in one place, occur more and more frequently, either with inside or outside counsel. An article in MIT Sloan Mgt. Rev., Vol. 50, Summer 2009 at 65, nicely lays out the benefits and costs of dispersed teams.

The opportunities include (1) “Heterogeneous knowledge resources,” (2) “Utilization of cost advantages,” (3) “Access to diverse skills and experience,” (4) “Knowledge about diverse markets,” and (5) “’Follow the sun’ working.”

Liabilities of virtual teams include (1) “Language barriers,” (2) “Cultural incompatibilities,” (3) “Difficulties establishing ‘common ground’,” (4) “Fewer synchronous face-to-face interactions,” and (5) “Good teamwork more difficult to achieve.”

Many legal departments, strung out around the globe, set up virtual teams for many purposes (See my post of Feb. 1, 2009: project teams of law departments with 39 references and 4 metaposts.). It’s good to have a sense of those teams’ strengths and weaknesses.

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One response to “Pros and cons of legal teams, where members work from different locations”

  1. Virtual teams can be most effective for a client for the reasons noted, but also to be sure the client is receiving prompt attention and the best skills for the task at hand. Technology has made this much more practical due to the internet, low cost of storing information online, and software technology which empowers lawyers to collaborate on legal matters within an office, from home to office and around the globe. One cost effective product that is being used to accomplish this is Legal Files. Clients prefer the responsiveness and effectiveness of virtual legal teams.