A number of posts have discussed quasi-legal work, which are tasks that law departments are able to do but ought to be done elsewhere in the company (See my posts of July 21, 2005 with definitions and Feb. 23, 2006 on how to snag these activities.). Law departments with a solid understanding of their role and how they can best contribute to their company should minimize quasi-legal work.
From a different slant, other posts have talked about various units in the company whose everyday work depends on knowledge of substantial amounts of law (See my post of Aug. 30, 2006 on wannabe lawyers in units such as Human Resources, R&D, Environmental Health & Safety, and Industrial Relations.). Call these groups whose competency in an area of law is crucial “legalistic units.”
The connection between legal units and quasi-legal work becomes clear. A company’s need for legal advice represents a see-saw. The more that is done within the law department, the higher the quotient of quasi-legal work. The more that is done in legalistic units, the less the law department need take on.
Much of law department management is recognition of such see-saw spectra, what the poles and policy decisions are, and where you want your department to be on the teeter point.