If you want to understand how you should improve the productivity of your legal department’s work, read this to understand how and why. And that the answer does not lie in increasing the productivity of the legal department but rather the one of the whole system that the in-house lawyer works in.
A quote: ”So, as Corporate counsel increasingly focus on enhancing their own productivity, Goldratt’s observation might be: That’s not the right goal. Legal can’t be productive on its own. The whole system is productive—or not—depending on how its parts all work together. If we increase our productivity without addressing the rest of the environment we inhabit, we are as likely to be aggravating productivity problems as enhancing productivity. To improve, we need to think about the productivity of the whole system.”
The authors are giving a few practical observations that apply to the productivity of many legal departments – here with my additions to them:
1. Legal is (often) the Bottleneck: To my opinion it cannot be blamed on resources but rather no 2 below (Legal Departments have simply not understood it role).
2. The fault is not laziness – rather a process failure that leads to things moving in loops rather than in straight lines.
3. The Process Mess stems from incorrect inputs, incorrect specification of what’s needed or misuse of legal’s work product that sends papers back into legal for reworking at a later point.
4. Prioritization Matters: Few legal departments have strong and consistent methods to prioritize tasks, meaning that Legal Departments are commonly a bottleneck in one process while overproducing in another. It’s the worst of both worlds. The system should be based on value / risk in the contex of what activities are core and what activities are contextual for the company.
5. Re-define the Goal: Measure outcomes, but stop measuring the output of Legal Department and set the goal at the right level—the output of the whole system—and then measure legal’s contribution to that goal.