In-House Legal Departments


An honest and candid assessment of corporate legal, circa 2021


Several months ago, before we had even completed our first year of operations, Bill invited us to write a legal market year-in-review.  His reasoning was simple—our business model entails a lot of listening.  Over the past twelve months, we heard the hopes, dreams, and fears of 240 law firms and 327 law departments (corporate legal) spread over 2,600 meetings.

Perhaps you’re anticipating a conversation about what’s hot in Legal Tech and NewLaw.  And back when we accepted Bill’s invitation, that seemed like a logical direction.  Yet, much to our own surprise, we find ourselves writing a year-in-review essay that focuses on the primacy of culture and cultural adaption.
Continue Reading LexFusion’s Legal Market Year in Review (280)


How can we keep up with exponential increases in demand and complexity?  Invert the pyramid.


Bill Henderson once advised me not to use the term “industrialization” to describe changes in the legal profession to attorneys. It offends us, and we disengage. But I titled this field note “industrial evolution” because we must embrace industrialization as a necessary and valuable part of our transformation that will elevate the value of our profession in a digital age. Cf. Post 231 (Henderson breaking his own advice for the same reason, comparing legal to the early days of the auto industry).

This post is part of a series that reflects my legal industry learning journey, building upon my career journey (080), professional evolution (143), focus on knowledge work (159), and future practice design theory (210). This installment examines the changes happening now that require us to evolve to serve a civilization experiencing exponential change powered by the fourth industrial revolution, and how we might get there faster, together. See Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee, The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies (2016) (cognitive automation will produce creative destruction).
Continue Reading Legal evolution is industrial evolution (277)


Putting complex and often intimidating topics into context.


Chapter 8, Technology

No discussion on contracting process improvements is complete without focusing on technology. Scarcely a day goes by without an article, blog, or webinar on legal technology and, more specifically, about artificial intelligence (AI). There are many conferences and webinars about contract management systems—on selecting them, on what to use them for, how to derive greatest benefit, etc. Usually, those educational programs are provided or delivered by the contract management systems providers.

Technology is always at the core of any discussion about innovation, for example, but I maintain it should not be. Before any conversation about technology takes place, there should be an assessment of the current state of the people and processes involved in contracting, which is why this chapter follows my previous chapters on People and Process. Only after a thorough review takes place, and there is agreement within the organization that the right people are doing the right steps in the best order, should a discussion about technology begin.
Continue Reading CLM Simplified Part IV: Technology, Metrics & Data, and Outsourcing (272)


The hard work that comes before any discussion of technology


Chapter 5, Playbooks

The need for creating playbooks for templated contracts is a subject of much discussion. This is because playbooks are one of the ways in which contracting is simplified. But they can take many forms. Luckily, distinguishing and differentiating between the necessary types of playbooks is possible without creating too much complexity. Not only are they used to create standardization across a law department, but they also empower the business.

Playbooks educate, create consistency, and are an absolute requirement for any type of outsourcing contract review. I submit for your consideration that there are two basic types of playbooks: The Law Department Playbook and the Empowerment Guide.
Continue Reading CLM Simplified Part III: Playbooks, People, and Process (271)

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“Contracts are the lifeline of the company, so it’s no wonder it is an ongoing cycle.”


Chapter 2, What is CLM?

The term contract lifecycle management (CLM) is a hotly discussed topic in legal operations and legal technology circles. It is important to dissect the concept and understand what precisely I am referring to, especially in trying to tackle and improve the contracting lifecycle.
Continue Reading CLM Simplified Part II: What is CLM?, Legal Policy Review, Templates (270)


“This book is designed specifically for legal teams to become the lean, mean contracting machines that the business needs.” p 12.


[Editor’s note:  This is a four-part series that excerpts Lucy Bassli’s new book, CLM Simplified. Part I is Bassli’s full Introduction.  Part II excerpts What is CLM?, Legal Policy Review, and Templates (Ch 2-4). Part III excerpts Playbooks, People, and Process (Ch 5-7). Part IV excerpts Technology, Metrics & Data, and Outsourcing (Ch 8-10).
Continue Reading CLM Simplified Part I: Introduction (269)


Collecting data to evaluate how they work together


The relationship between different business functions and legal teams is fundamental to the speed, adaptability, and value achieved within their individual functions and, by proxy, the organization itself. But what is that relationship like?
Continue Reading Survey on the intersection of Legal & Business (268)


Trading ego for effectiveness, friendship, and purpose.


Joe Borstein and Paul Stroka asked me to get naked with them. I said yes. Then Bill asked me to write about it. So here we are.

Now that you’re hooked by the clickbait headline and the tease, we must, naturally, commence with an anecdotal aside before I explain why the platitudinous “our customers are our business” is especially true for LexFusion, why “everyone talks to us because everyone talks to us,” and what these say about the evolution of the  broader legal innovation ecosystem.
Continue Reading Getting naked with colleagues and clients (267)


115,770 versus 107,209


Above is a graphic that shows the increase in the number of employed lawyers broken down by sector.  The takeaway is that in-house is growing much faster than the government and law firm sectors.

This graphic was originally published in Post 003 (through 2016).  Thus, I thought it was time for an update.

From1997 (the first year of comparable data from the BLS) to 2020, the number of lawyers employed in-house has increased from 34,750 to 115,770 — a 3x increase. Yes, the rapid pace of growth is noteworthy, but equally significant is the relatively large size of the in-house sector.  As a point of comparison, there are 145,600 lawyers (partners, associates, and other attorneys) working in a domestic office of one of the nation’s 500 largest law firms (NLJ 500). (Another 28,100 NLJ 500 lawyers work outside the U.S.)
Continue Reading In-house is bigger than BigLaw (262)


So we’re gonna change too.


In last month’s column (Post 253), we defined NewLaw as a significantly different approach to the creation or provision of legal services than what the legal profession traditionally has employed. Thus, it is reasonable to ask …

Q.  Why do we need a different approach?

It may seem the old ways are working just fine. Law firms are making money, clients are delivering services to their businesses, the wheels keep turning. And if ain’t broke, don’t fix it … right?
Continue Reading The needs of clients are changing (258)