I paraphrased this method to generate and ponder ideas comes from the MindTools site. http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_89.htm Managers in law departments could find many circumstances in which to use it.
Step 1: Before convening as a group, tell the members about the task or problem. Give everyone sufficient time to think about what needs to be done and to form their own opinions on how to best accomplish the task or solve the problem.
Step 2: Start with two members of the team and have them discuss the problem.
Step 3: Add a third group member to the core group. The third member presents ideas to the first two members BEFORE hearing the ideas that have already been discussed. After all three members have laid out their solutions and ideas, they discuss their options together.
Step 4: Repeat the same process by adding a fourth member, and so on, to the group. Allow time for discussion after each additional member has presented his or her ideas.
Step 5: Reach a final decision only after all members have been brought in and presented their ideas.
The Stepladder Technique helps ensure that all members of a group participate and are heard. The technique allows shy, quiet people to present their ideas before other group members can influence them, and it allows everyone to hear many different viewpoints before reaching a final decision.