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Legal Business

Ten More Ways to Knit Up the Raveled Sleeve of a Spread-out Legal Department

If your legal team has offices strung out from Albania to Zimbabwe, you probably wish there were more cohesion, collegiality, and collective culture (See my post of Jan. 16, 2009: physically decentralized law departments with 13 references.).

To the dozen techniques I have discussed in previous posts to share a feeling of being one legal department, let me add ten more (See my post of March 1, 2009: creating a one-department culture with 7 posts and 5 metaposts; and March 26, 2009: four more ideas about unification efforts.).

1. Centers of Excellence and communities of interest. Create pools of experience here and there and lawyers will be linked through reaching out to them (See my post of July 21, 2005: brokering knowledge; July 25, 2005: knowledge management and communities of practice; Sept. 10, 2005: COE, center of excellence; March 13, 2007: Lucent Technologies and communities of practice; Feb. 4, 2008: centers of excellence or expertise at GC; and May 7, 2008: seven terms for specialists in legal departments.).

2. Centralize reporting of all practicing lawyers (See my post of Aug. 5, 2008: decentralized reporting with 7 references.). Having one boss helps gel a legal team.

3. Break down silos of practice groups. For example, prepare one guideline for outside counsel to cover the entire department; create a shared list of preferred counsel; choose a single relationship partner at each major law firm; do collective Requests for Proposal.

4. Establish regional general counsel (See my post of Dec. 15, 2009: regional inside counsel with 8 references.). They will pull together the lawyers in their part of the world and carry messages back from the rest of the department.

5. Promote annual objectives for individuals that include efforts to unite the department. People who need to buy into the idea of collective benefit from a shared sense of purpose and practice should be asked to come up with ideas to help make possible that advantage.

To read techniques six through 10, visit the Law Department Management blog.