An oft-misunderstood aspect of assessing the ROI of law departments is the distinction between costs and value. Cost is merely expense: How much did you spend? Value speaks to what you purchased: How much utility did you gain?

The distinction matters. Too often, law departments chase low cost as a means to maximize ROI rather than thinking through how to maximize value (that is, increase the return on spending). Focusing on value raises the question of how to measure “legal value” and deliver “legal value”. That, in turn, prompts a foundational question: In pursuit of what goal does a law department “do law” in the first place?

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