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To delegate or not to delegate?

In order to realize the greatest value in legal service, the work should be performed at the most appropriate level by the most appropriate individual. Does this general rule require that all work be “downstreamed” or delegated to the most junior level? How does it square with the trend (one that has pervaded law firms and other organizations for decades) of reducing the number of support staff and thereby increasing the ratio of professionals to support staff, as by providing one secretary/executive assistant to three attorneys rather than to two?

The general rule does not mandate either more or fewer support personnel per a number of lawyers. It also does not lead to automatic delegation of professional work to the lowest feasible level (such as to junior associates rather than more-senior lawyers). Sometimes, work performed by more senior members of a firm represents the higher-value work. See, e.g., the case study described on pages 153-155 of The Value-Able Law Department.

Steve Lauer