More valuable than mission and vision statements, in my view, are summaries of a law department’s practices in certain areas. A statement of when budgets should be required by law firms and how those budgets will be reviewed and recorded makes sense. A summary of how to and when to conduct a competitive bid by law firms for a matter will surface misunderstandings, clarify goals, and help keep that intent in everybody’s mind. Outside counsel guidelines are a third example of departmental policies (See my post of July 2, 2007 on guidelines for the oversight of outside counsel.).
Any repetitive process creates an opportunity for some structure. If there is a practice to evaluate the performance of law firms, some level of codification helps bring about consistency and quality. Likewise, a brief statement of what is expected when member of the law department interview applicants will help.