The HP Legal Department's State of Flux

By Kevin Fayle on May 14, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Your computer may be personal again, but apparently the legal department at HP isn't anymore. 

This article from the Recorder describes a legal department that shifted from a stable environment for people to escape from the pressures of BigLaw and work out the rest of their careers in comfort, to a department focused sharply on performance evaluations and management re-shuffles. 
GC Michael Holston, who joined HP in 2007, has kept the department in a state of perpetual churn, according to author Zusha Elinson.  While this has increased the number of practicing attorneys in the office from less than 300 to somewhere between 300 and 400, it has also meant that a lot of people who built their careers with HP have left the company and either retired or moved on to other in house counsel positions.

Some current and past members of the HP legal department complain that the new focus on trimming the department's size and making sure that only the people whose skills are necessary right now has led to the loss of a more personal environment, and has pushed many experience lawyers out of the department in favor of younger, less seasoned attorneys.

Others say that the constant state of flux keeps everyone on their toes and makes the work more entertaining.

According to at least one observer, this situation isn't unique to HP.  Daniel DiLucchio Jr., a principal at Altman Weil, estimates that 25 percent of law departments have instituted some kind of aggressive performance management system like HP's.

What do you think?  Should Law departments have a more collegiate atmosphere where experienced attorneys occupy a position of reverence, or should there be constant churn to keep the energy up?
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