Published on:

Two points on whether innovation flourishes more in larger or smaller law departments

The Economist, Dec. 17, 2011 at 116, discusses the well-worn arguments regarding relative innovativeness between bigger and smaller companies. The editorial adds two points: (1) larger companies excel more at incremental improvements than radical change and (2) the growth rates of companies correlate more with innovation than do their size.

The points do not carry over well to law departments, but it feels logical that big departments – fifty or more lawyers, let’s say – find it harder to transform a practice of theirs than do smaller, more nimble shall we say, departments. The smaller ones have fewer vested interests, less encrustation from history, a smaller number of handoffs and interconnections affected.

As to the second point, when a law department rides the steady growth of the company it serves, surely there are more reasons and resources in favor of change. Expansion creates opportunities and nourishes innovation.