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About the Author

Connie Brenton

Connie Brenton is chief of staff and director of legal operations at NetApp. Email her at

Article List

  • The 80 Percent Solution

    Being perfectionists generally serves lawyers well. With a low margin for error, most legal work benefits from a perfectionist bent. Perfection, however, has a dark side, especially where the world operates on a continuum (better to worse) rather than a binary divide (right/wrong). Voltaire warned that “the perfect is the...

  • To borrow a phrase, just do it

    Just start. Take the first step. Small advances from a low baseline can and do pay huge dividends. On departmental improvement initiatives, lawyers can be their own worst enemies. We need to get out of our own way.

  • The data deficit

    Proper measurement is a prerequisite to proper management. You need clean, accurate data before you can be data-driven. If you’re not collecting data now, you’re already behind. The first step towards running the legal department like a business and being data-driven is to decide why you’re collecting the data and...

  • More than great lawyers

    While legal insight can be the product of a solitary genius, the delivery of modern legal services demands a mix of people, processes and technology. Our previous columns calling for structured dialogue between law departments and law firms are informed by our view that the marketplace should pay more attention...

  • On law department responsibility (Part 2)

    Our last column called for structured dialogue between law departments and law firms. We recommended an ongoing conversation about identifiable improvements in how legal services are delivered. With people and pricing in place, process will drive continuous improvement. Collaboration can deepen relationships between law departments and law firms. Better legal...

  • On law department responsibility (Part 1)

    It is a buyer's market for legal services. Yet, there remain many glaring deficits in the delivery of legal services that we have not remedied. To address these faults, we need to incent outside counsel to work differently, set clear expectations for what we want, and work collaboratively to ensure...

  • Bad budgeting

    Projections do not need to be precise in order to be accurate. A preoccupation with precision seems to paralyze many outside counsel when they are asked to present a budget or bid on a fixed fee.

  • Rack rate fiction (Part 2)

    Garbage in, garbage out. As we strive to introduce more empirical approaches to legal-quality and spend management, we continue running into the problem of garbage data.

  • Rack rate fiction (Part 1)

    Published billable rates are a fiction, not only because no one pays them, but also because of their tenuous relationship to the underlying reality.

  • Achieving differentiation with the little things

    Where the base of comparison is one set of outstanding lawyers versus another, velocity of timekeeping can have a considerable impact at the margins.

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