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“World-class” should mean improvement year over year, instead of an end state

Some general counsel aspire to have their law department operate at a “world-class” level (See my post of May 16, 2007: misguided goals embedded in the aspiration.). By that term they mean their team should perform at the level of the best law departments. That is a rhetorical goal, not a practical one, because no one knows which law departments are best; indeed, we do not even know what practices are “best” (See my post of Feb. 9, 2009: best practices with 24 references and one metapost).

Instead, general counsel should strive each year not for some mythical blue ribbon but to improve measurably on one or more aspects that make a material difference to the company in productivity, quality, or risk. Continuously getting better yields more than does a quixotic pursuit of some end state and then stasis.

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