Archive: April, 2007
As a fresh faced law school graduate, one of my first tasks at the firm I joined was to incorporate a company. From what I recall, the process involved:
- Writing people’s names and addresses over and over again in a whole bunch of documents (application forms; directors’ consents; meeting minutes; share certificates; notices, and numerous other templates) and crossing out sections of documents that weren’t applicable.
- Handing the documents to a secretary to type them up (I can’t recall why I wasn’t supposed to type them myself).
- Reviewing the documents for accuracy.
- Handing the documents back to the secretary to fix.
- Posting the documents to the client.
- What I remember most clearly was not understanding why the process was so slow and (in my view) so susceptible to error. I was writing the same information in at least half a dozen different documents. Surely there was a better way?
Us versus them! This often seems to be the attitude of an organisation’s legal department vis-à-vis its internal clients, and vice versa. As Ken Adams puts it:
“lawyers consider business people to be loose cannons willing to sell their first-born to close a deal, whereas business people regard lawyers to be “overhead” always eager to find obstacles so as to remind their masters why they were hired in the first place.”
Lawyers vs. Business People
Having worked a lot with banks recently, we’re well aware of their huge range of product offerings. (According to Accenture, your typical bank now has about 350 products.)
What may be less apparent is the staggering cost of supporting such a variety of products. A recent Banking Strategies magazine article, Uncovering the Hidden Cost of Complexity, explains:
“In the past, financial institutions handled less variety so “assembly-line” processes evolved, processes that could handle volume well, but not variety. If you put variety through a process designed for “plain vanilla,” you get increased operational and quality issues, such as workarounds, re-working, cost-overruns, increased staffing levels, etc.”