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The cascade from corporate goals down to individual lawyer objectives

This is high-level stuff, but it helps to put several pieces and terms in place. Start with an image of an upside-down pyramid where the top level is your corporation’s goals.

To further those corporate goals – why the legal department exists –– usually finds expression in a department’s mission statement the next level down (See my post of March 20, 2008: mission statements with 17 references; and Dec. 7, 2005: mission statement with 7 references.).

The third level from the top of the pyramid could be a statement of the legal department’s core values (See my post of May 23, 2008: values with 12 references.). Mission statements often conflate core values. Furthermore, the pervasive culture of a department frequently affects people more than any formal statements of values.

Next come the strategic business plan of the general counsel, which outlines what the lawyers need to do to accomplish their mission in adherence to their value set (See my post of June 25, 2008: strategic plan with 10 references.).

Below the business plan, as one way to measure how well the legal department performs against it, is some form of balanced scorecard (See my post of Feb. 26, 2008: balanced scorecards with 8 references.). A balanced scorecard should incorporate benchmarks and client satisfaction measures.

The performance of the law department depends on the efforts of its every member, so the bottom level on this pyramid of management concepts consists of all the members’ personal objectives, many of which are set out in annual personal plans (See my post of Sept. 21, 2008: annual reviews and evaluations, with 12 references.).

It would be a heavily managed law department that conscientiously completes all the sub-corporate levels of this pyramid.