A recent post suggested six personality traits of lawyers that inhibit change (See my post of Nov. 12, 2009: six traits that inhibit change.). Andrew Davis of Exari left a good comment, and I thought I would stand “on the shoulders of giants.” Andrew wrote:
“Most in-house lawyers work in law firms before moving in-house. And I think their exposure to the billable hour has a big impact on their behavior. Billings have a huge impact on law firm revenues and on the careers of individual lawyers. This deters them from investing non-billable time today to become more efficient over the longer term. Even though, after a lawyer moves in-house, their day-to-day legal work is often no longer billable, I would argue that they have been trained to focus on just doing the work, rather than taking a step back to see if they could do it more productively.”
This formative period for most in-house counsel and its brainwashing to ignore productivity brings to mind another influence. Efficiency is not the goal at law school or as an associate; indeed, both reward working and reworking case digests or memoranda (respectively), exam outlines and research (respectively). Once inside, however, the efficiency of a lawyer wins the prize: deal with the major risks in the most direct way and move on to the next problem that hits your desk.