Year-in and year-out, companies release their strategic goals, prompting general counsel and chief legal officers to do the same for their departments. Law department goals typically align with company goals (e.g., “execute on our biggest opportunities”; “enhance the ability of the law department to facilitate profitable growth”) and then include more legally focused objectives (e.g., “defend and protect the interests of the company” or “develop next generation of legal talent into customer-centric business partners”). These department goals are then handed off to associate GCs, deputy GCs and practice group managers as guideposts to develop associated goals for their teams, along with specific actions that can be tracked on a dashboard. To the extent they can, these department leads take their cues from the top and delegate this to their staff, citing executing on goals as a “growth and development opportunity.”

It’s the rare lawyer who relishes the opportunity to turn strategic goals into an executable strategic plan with measurable actions. The end result is often a predictable portfolio of projects or initiatives dispersed to various staff members—also marketed as a growth and development opportunity—to lead a project team. From there, project teams will be assembled, kickoff meetings conducted, tasks assigned and follow-up dates set. The team may actually meet on occasion. Some people will do their part; others will not, citing too much day-to-day work. When the deliverables are due, there will be a scurry of activity to produce something that allows the project lead to mark complete on the dashboard. Mission accomplished.

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