No lawyer wants to confess that some of what he or she does is make-work, not worthy of that person’s experience and cost. If asked directly to disclose their low-value activities — and everybody has some of it — they hedge and fudge and protect themselves.
To sidestep this difficulty, at least to some degree, ask your lawyers these three questions:
(1) “Among the lawyers in your group, what work do you think has the lowest value?” This question assumes more than one lawyer works on similar matters. It’s effectiveness stems from that fact that It is less incriminating to disclose about others than about yourself.
(2) “If you could invest a modest amount of money right now to improve productivity, what would you spend it on?” This question can smoke out administrative and unworthy activities and possibly some remedies.
(3) “If you could change any corporate policies and procedures to increase productivity, which ones would you change and how?” This question also take aim at the drudge work, dragged in by blind adherence to standard practices, that perhaps can be reduced.