What are the right resources to solve a legal problem? How should you even think about this question? 

Many answers are possible. Below, I set forth one model – a classic management consultant’s 2-by-2. On the x-axis, plot complexity of work, from low to high. On the y-axis, plot volume of work, also from low to high. Draw lines at the axes’ centers and you define four quadrants. The bottom-left is low complexity and low volume, the top-right is high complexity and high volume, and so forth.

Intentionally absent are specific measures. The idea is consider the right resource for each quadrant without worrying about detailed measures. In my analysis, the simplest legal problems (lower left) can be solved with checklists. Automation (e.g., document assembly or expert systems) can solve low to medium (and even high) complexity problems given high enough volume (required to earn an ROI on the upfront cost to develop the system).

Off to right, for complex work, I assume lawyers are the right resource. But then there’s the big middle ground of medium complexity work at low or high volumes. Here, I suggest, a combination of paralegals, other professionals, temp lawyers, and offshore lawyers. Note that in general, shaded areas intentionally overlap.

Each person likely would draw the circles / ellipses elsewhere. The point is to use this approach to think about and discuss what resources to deploy to solve legal problems.

How many clients have systematically thought about their portfolio of legal problems and the optimal resource mix? Perhaps most general counsels intuitively choose the right resources for all their problems. I suspect that going through this or another systematic exercise / analysis might identify cost savings.

[I have previously proposed a different two-by-two framework for assessing investments in legal technology.]

Applying the Right Resources to Solve Legal Problems