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The consulting niche of those who advise law department lawyers on how to lead and manage

For two decades I have thoroughly enjoyed my career as a consultant to law departments. Many of my posts on this blog draw on this experience. Given that background, it is not odd that I have written from time to time about aspects of law department consultants. At times I have mentioned a few consultants (See my post of Nov. 26, 2006 on Lawyers in Business; May 3, 2007 #3 about Lexvista Partners; and March 4, 2007 about Jim Wilber.).

Here and there this blog has offered ideas about the niche of consulting to in-house lawyers (See my posts of April 5, 2005 on the unsuccessful Association of Consultants to Law Departments; July 31, 2005 and Aug. 26, 2005 on former general counsel who try their hand at consulting; Nov. 22, 2006 and Oct. 12, 2006 and Dec. 22, 2006 #2 about some law firms that have dabbled in consulting to law departments; Feb. 24, 2007 regarding document assembly consultants; and Feb. 2, 2005 about the incursions into consulting of the General Counsel Roundtable.).

Mostly I have tried to present fairly the benefits consultants can bring (See my posts of Aug. 28, 2005 on why law departments use consultants [“to organize … disjoint and jangled impressions of the department’s issues, tell them how and in what order to address them, and bring to bear lessons from other sources”]; and Oct. 6, 2006 [“guide a law department to see its own patch of turf in comparison to the wider field … guide your process … translate and mediate for the techies and the lawyers. Extra hands and minds … bad cop with vendors.”]).

Other contributions occur to me. A consultant can push back on a general counsel to a degree that direct reports cannot. A consultant can give voice, while protecting confidences, to the thoughts and concerns of all levels of staff in a law department. Additionally, an experienced consultant is able to provide names of vendors and users of those vendors’ services (See my post of Sept. 18, 2007.) and to provide a perspective from outside the department and cross-pollinate ideas (See my post of June 4, 2007.).

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