A recent newsletter from the global legal management consulting company suggests that it is time for law firms to consider Organizational Ombuds as a means of addressing internal discord. The newsletter, “Report to Legal Management,” is written for lawyer-managers in law firms and law departments, and provides provides cutting-edge management insight.
In the July/August 2009 issue, Douglas B. Richardson writes that changes in law firm practice seem to be fostering greater internal discord. Large, often multinational, law firms have come to resemble corporations in terms of size, grown and geographic decentralization. “Many once-collegial firms have not only lost the ability to resolve interpersonal dispute, they have lost the ability to take the pulse of their own morale,” Richardson said. He concludes that Ombuds programs may be a remedy for law firms, as they have been for many corporations.
The article features an extended discussion between Richardson and John Zinsser, who has served as an Ombuds and consultant for many corporations. Zinsser acknowledged that it would be a novel concept for law firms, which are comfortable with a legalistic and formal dispute resolution process, to accept the highly personalized and flexible Ombuds process. Nonetheless, he assured that Ombuds programs return economic and humanistic benefits for their organizations. Zinsser said that “a properly structured and executed ombudsman program could return more than $40 of value for every dollar invested.”
This is a compelling article that explains why law firms should establish Ombuds programs. Unfortunately, a subscription is required to access it. (Report to Legal Management.)
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