The popular converse of this statement – you can’t manage what you can’t measure – can’t be true.
General counsel often manage (guide, lead, direct, change course, alter) even though no metric directly shows efficacy of the process or outcome of the change. (See my article on several hard-to-measure initiatives, such as diversity) For example, choosing a matter management system doesn’t reduce to how long it takes, or what it costs, or how many people contributed to the selection – all quantifiable aspects of the project, but it is an important task and can be botched or bow-tied. Many aspects of managing a law department will likewise be judgment-based and intuitive.
Yes, some numbers crop up in connection with everything done to manage a group of in-house lawyers. You can count the number of psychometric instruments taken by a leadership group, and tally the number of hours of training they get, and gather metrics after meetings on perceived effectiveness, but those numbers skirt the essential management goal, which is fully achievable sans all numbers: a team of lawyers who row in unison.