Not long after I started at InsideCounsel as editor-in-chief, I began incorporating some of my own best practices into the editorial department. I knew how my predecessor had managed the team–I had worked for him for several years–but in a lot of ways his style was very different from mine. And although he ran the department well, I needed to instill some best practices I knew would work for me and my management style.

My best friend quickly became Microsoft Excel. I immediately created Excel spreadsheets to manage my annual budget as well as assignments to InsideCounsel’s freelancers. I also had spreadsheets to manage internal responsibilities of my editorial staff and to build future editorial calendars. For two-and-a-half years, these simple spreadsheets have gone a long way in helping me save time, and as a result money, for my department
and company.

Creating these types of efficiencies for our departments and companies is something we’re all consistently trying to do. And that brings us to InsideCounsel’s annual IC 10 issue.

Every year, since 2004, we have asked our readers to submit ways they have introduced efficiencies into their legal departments. We look for departments that have found innovative ways of dealing with a variety of issues, which may include managing outside counsel or other vendors, providing value to the client, using technology to boost efficiency, increasing diversity in the department, managing a budget in tough economic times or retaining staff.

The task of choosing the winners every year is arduous. The editorial team sifts through the many nomination forms we receive and carefully evaluates each one. Nominations are always impressive. This year’s entries ranged from a department trying to get a better handle on protecting intellectual property internally to another finding the best use of all of its resources through the use of paralegals, and to one simply forging a better working relationship with its outside counsel. Senior level in-house counsel have clearly made running their departments more efficiently a priority.

In today’s struggling economy, finding the best, most efficient ways to run a department is critical to managing everyday business. Check out InsideCounsel’s 2010 IC 10 winners (p. 50). You may find some best practices worth incorporating into your department.