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Exceptional Lawyers, or Lawyer Exceptionalism?

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By Kevin Fayle on June 23, 2009 3:45 PM

A note to in house counsel everywhere: You aren't special.

At least that's the thrust of a post in Rees Morrison's Law Department Management Blog.

It's not like it sounds, though.  Morrison is simply taking law departments to task for engaging in "lawyer exceptionalism" - the idea that lawyers are somehow exempt from the rules and practices that govern the work of other employees within a company.  He's not actually making qualitative judgments about the lawyers themselves, of course.
Morrison looked back through his past articles and highlighted trends in legal departments and among general counsel that showcase this ideal of attorney exceptionalism.  Here's what he found:

"Finance has the craziest ideas about accruals and budgets" (See my post of June 18, 2009: interplay of finance/accounting and legal with 19 references and 2 metaposts.).

"Procurement practices don't count for us lawyers" (See my post of March 1, 2008: procurement with 17 references.). But many of the disciplines of sourcing groups make sense for in-house lawyers to apply.

"HR policies and forms misunderstand the talent of lawyers" (See my post of June 14, 2009: HR departments with 16 references and 3 metaposts.). Yet policies of a company regarding its people should apply with equal force to its employed lawyers.

"IT doesn't understand legal." (See my post of June 16, 2009: Information Technology staff group with 23 references and 1 metapost.). The two sides spar and spat, but they need each other.

"Facilities fails to appreciate that we need big offices and lots of conference rooms" (See my post of Jan. 29, 2009: cost per square foot of offices; and March 11, 2009: conservation for law departments with 7 references.).

"Six Sigma has huge defects when applied to what we do" (See my post of Feb. 13, 2008: Six Sigma with 18 references.).

Personally, I think Morrison is coming down on attorneys a little hard here.  After all, if you can't be arrogant, elitist and expect special treatment, what's the point of going to law school?

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