For the past 10 years, the Center has been engaged in a series of projects aimed at understanding the nature of professional careers, with a particular focus on gender, race, and other diversity-related issues. This research, which includes a series of large scale surveys, has resulted in several widely cited reports, The Women and Men of Harvard Law School and The State of Black Alumni.
This project is a joint collaboration between leading thinkers from multiple sides of the legal profession: Professor David B. Wilkins (Harvard Law School), Mr. Benjamin Heineman, Jr. (CLP Distinguished Senior Fellow and former General Counsel of General Electric) and Mr. William Lee (Partner, WilmerHale). The essay lays out their vision of lawyers as professionals and citizens in the 21st century. In the coming months, we will solicit comments from leading legal professionals about the ideas expressed in this essay to be published on this website.
The Power of Collaboration for In-House Lawyers by CLP Distinguished Research Fellow Heidi Gardner, PhD
Collaboration isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a business necessity. As the legal, business, technological and regulatory environment changes more and more quickly, lawyers need to specialize equally quickly in order to stay at the cutting edge of knowledge in their domain. One-dimensional legal problems have swelled into multi-faceted, goliath-sized business problems that span departments, disciplines, and geographies. As one general counsel put it, “I don’t have legal problems. I have ‘problem’ problems.” The complexity of today’s problems call for those specialists to collaborate across disciplinary and organizational boundaries to tackle those sophisticated issues. In-house legal departments are grappling with the clashing together of two trends: the specialization of expertise and increasingly complexity of business problems. The tension between the two trends is what produces the need for smart collaboration.
And catch up on Dr. Gardner’s ongoing work into collaboration in law firms. Why is it often so difficult to get law partners to collaborate and cross-sell? What are the benefits to the partner(s) What are the benefits to the firm? To the client? How can firm leaders foster more productive and effective collaboration? Dr. Gardner has conducted an empirical analysis of data including timesheets and financial records of two global law firms (over a ten-year period) and has interviewed 100’s of top legal professionals. Her results point to the power of collaboration – in both the best and worst of times.
This Report marks the culmination of the Center on the Legal Profession’s Corporate Purchasing Project—more than four years of scholarly research dedicated to examination of the ways in which S&P 500 legal departments hire and manage outside counsel, drawing from six academic papers. How are relationships between clients and service providers in the corporate legal market evolving, and why? Answering this critically important question requires both the availability of unbiased quantitative information about how large corporations make law firm hiring and assessment decisions and a robust qualitative and theoretical framework to evaluate broader variations and trends. This novel empirical data is drawn from surveys and interviews of 166 chief legal officers (“CLOs”) of S&P 500 companies—one-third of all such large publicly traded companies.
Sign up below to learn more about the global legal profession from academics and practitioners from around the world!