‘We’re All Consultants Now’: How Change in Client Organizational Strategies Influences Change in the Organization of Corporate Legal Services
48 Pages Posted: 2 May 2011
Date Written: December 5, 2002
In the hierarchical corporation, a law firm obtained work from top executives. In a flattened corporation, work emerges from project teams. Empowered project teams change the practice of law. In an image, not the golf course, but the water cooler becomes where work is distributed.
In many places, corporate law departments lost their abilities to be gatekeepers over who is hired by project teams, although they increasingly are used as purchasing agents to drive down legal costs. To retain effective control over the company's legal work, legal departments partner with a limited number of firms. Benchmarking processes are often used to restructure the legal department into competing groups. Like outside counsel, inside counsel must market themselves to self-managing project teams.
Law firms become client-sensitive, marketing their abilities to "add value." "Minders" begin to compete with "finders" for partnership shares. Client relations partners emerge and gain firm power. In addition to selling a business service, law firms begin to sell products.
In the flattened corporation, companies use lawyers just like they use any consultant. And law firm and legal department are redesigning themselves to sell consultancy services. Changes in the organization of corporate clients are influencing change in corporate legal services.
Keywords: project teams, legal services, law firms, legal departments
JEL Classification: K40, L22, L84, K14, M54
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation