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“Socialization,” an important concept and term for law department managers

This nifty term, ripe with all kinds of ideas useful for law department managers, showed up in an article on innovation in services, published by Cal. Mgt. Rev., Vol. 50, Fall 2007 at 174.

Socialization means how those who join a law department come to learn its culture – its combination of values and norms (See my post of Nov. 20, 2007 for a discussion of those terms.). Most general counsel give little thought to the absorption process, yet effectively welcoming, making comfortable, and integrating a new person makes a huge difference for everyone.

The hiring process starts to indoctrinate a new recruit. A few legal departments thereafter have pre-meditated on-boarding processes and manuals. A half-day “new hire” orientation, stuffed with forms and signatures, may be the extent of it. Later, mentors may help socialize a new arrival (See my post of July 14, 2005 on knowledge coaches.).

Mostly, however, new arrivals to a law department just idiosyncratically absorb the style and ambiance of their department; osmosis over time shapes everyone. Such a haphazard process ill serves everyone.

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