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The seven mistakes law departments can make regarding performance metrics

The seven mistakes law departments can make regarding performance metrics

In MIT Sloan Mgt. Rev., Vol. 48, Spring 2007 at 19, Michael Hammer brings down the tablets of the seven deadly sins of performance measurement. Let me translate the sins into law-departmentspeak.

1. Vanity: “to use measures that will inevitably make the [department], its people and especially its [general counsel] look good.” An example might be compliance by law firms with budgets, where those budgets are revised up until the last moment.
2. Provincialism: “letting organizational boundaries and concerns dictate performance metrics.” An HR group might do a sloppy job, but the law department’s budget bears the resulting litigation cost.
3. Narcissism: “measuring from one’s own point of view, rather than from the customer’s perspective.” Litigators may care about cycle time, but business executives care about total resolution costs.
4. Laziness: “assuming one knows what is important to measure without giving it adequate thought or effort.” When general counsel speak triumphantly after they exorcise full rates, they haven’t thought hard enough.
5. Pettiness: when you “measure only a small component of what matters.” An illustration of this is where a law department tracks spending only on the handful of law firms that it pays the most. This ignores all the other law firms as well as internal time on matters, resolution costs and client time.
6. Inanity: “to implement metrics without giving any thought to the consequences of these metrics on human behavior and ultimately on enterprise performance.” Woe unto the law department that tracks internal time as a measure of lawyer productivity. Hours will skyrocket, but the quality and quantity of output may even diminish.
7. Frivolity: “the sin of not being serious about measurement in the first place.” Those law departments who collect task-coded bills but do nothing with the data are guilty of this sin.

The final four pages of this 10-page article scroll through Hammer’s prescriptions for how to expiate these seven deadly sins of performance measurement.

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