Last June, we discussed our suspicion that lawyers believe that multidisciplinary teams can include only lawyers. Bloomberg Law’s 2021 Legal Operations Survey results confirm that suspicion. Lawyers justify their definition of multidisciplinary teams in a variety of ways and, while there may be a place for the lawyer-only team, lawyers should usually consider including other types of professionals on the team.
Lawyers Only: The Legal Multidisciplinary Team
Survey results indicate that most (82%) respondents believe MDTs can be made up only of lawyers. Many of these respondents justify lawyer-only MDTs through reasoning that lawyers in different practice areas, at different seniority levels, or from other firms can make a team “multidisciplinary.”
This contrasts with the traditional composition of an MDT, which usually includes a group with diverse professional backgrounds and skills working together to solve a problem. And while it’s true that lawyers from different practice areas or firms may offer unique viewpoints, lawyer-only MDTs still lack important perspectives, which lawyers should care about if they want to reach well-rounded, informed outcomes.
When Should Non-Lawyers Be Included?
Considering the broad range of purposes for which respondents said their legal departments and firms use MDTs, and the added value that diverse opinions can bring to achieve those purposes, organizations should add more non-lawyers to MDTs to provide diverse perspectives and ideas.
The following highlight opportunities for more diverse MDTs:
– Seek input from management, the finance department, and human resources when making decisions on process improvement, strategic planning and initiatives, or budgeting.
– When vetting new technologies, include information technology to ensure that tech solutions are compatible with current systems and meet the organization’s security needs.
– For marketing needs, engage internal marketing personnel as well as external parties to evaluate your message and clarity.
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