Mark David Richards
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Government and People
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What Is DCWatch?
A Comparison of Hildebrandt
International's Report, "Office of the Corporation Counsel, Defining the Optimal
Organization," and DC Appleseed Center's Report, "D.C. Office of the Corporation
Counsel: Core Remedies for Lasting Reform" (November 16, 2000 draft)
December 8, 2000
- a 25-year-old multidisciplinary management consulting firm that has worked with legal
departments in many law firms, industries, and at every level of government
- has worked with the Corporation Counsel of the City of Chicago and the offices of the
Attorney General for Hawaii, Minnesota, Arkansas, Virginia, and New York
- retained by OCC to offer recommendations on the optimal structure for the office based
on information provided by OCC -- it was not asked to provide an assessment of the current
state of affairs
- interviewed all Senior Deputies, Deputies, and Section Chiefs, who provided information
about OCC operations (approximately 30 attorneys)
- recommendations are based on data OCC collected during office reengineering initiative,
the consultant's experience in the legal service industry, and proprietary data
- defines the optimal legal department as one that has the appropriate skills, capacity,
and resources to fully support the needs of its clients in a fiscally responsible manner
reflecting a best practices approach
- an independent non-profit advocacy organization
- commenced a study of OCC in the summer of 1999 at the request of then-Corporation
Counsel John Ferren
- distributed 566 surveys to current OCC attorneys, co-counsel, opposing counsel,
employees of other District government agencies, and judges 18% response rate to surveys
(103 out of 566)
- conducted 24 confidential interviews (current and former OCC employees, District agency
personnel, District and federal judges, and representatives of the Council, the Control
Board, and the U.S. Attorney's Office).
- compared OCC to 5 government law offices in jurisdictions of comparable size to the
District: Cincinnati, Denver, Nashville/Davidson County, Phoenix, San Francisco
- assessed the data OCC developed during the reengineering effort
- scope of evaluation included accountability of OCC attorneys, management processes, and
resources provided to line attorneys to perform their work
- did not undertake to evaluate interaction with other District government agencies; the
responsibility of OCC to the Mayor, the Council, and others; or outsourcing
- The head office would be comprised of 6 senior attorneys reporting to the Corporation
Counsel, including the Principal Deputy, a Senior Deputy, and 4 senior-level advisors.
- The Principal Deputy would lead the "Legal Services Group," which would be the
agency's primary service provider:
- The Legal Services Group would be comprised of 5 divisions (Appellate, Public
Protection, Commercial, Government Operations, and Litigation), headed by Deputies, with 16
practice sections, headed by Assistant Deputies, organized to align legal services
with client needs.
- 25 lawyer supervisors would serve under the 16 Assistant Deputies and 5 Deputies; 71
senior counsel, 121 counsel, and 19 staff lawyers would serve under lawyer supervisors
- Overall, there would be 264 attorneys, including the Corporation Counsel).
- The Senior Deputy would lead the "Shared Services Group," which would provide
operational support to the agency:
- The Shared Services Group would be comprised of 4 divisions (Administrative
Services, Human Resources, Support Functions, and Finance) organized of all of the
administrative managers and supervisors.
- Overall, there would be 282 employees in this group,
- 4 senior-level advisors would comprise a group that provides advice and counsel to the
Mayor and other officials.
- Recommends that OCC flatten the current organization structure into four layers:
- Corporation Counsel,
- level II supervisor,
- level I supervisor, and
- line attorney.
- Suggests that OCC reconfigure the alignment of the Agency General Counsel, which are all
currently supervised by the Senior Deputy for Government Operations, so that they report
to the operational units of the office that are representing the respective agency.
- Recommends retaining an experienced management professional ("Legal Services
Manager") with a strong background in legal office administration. The report does
not explain why the present manager (the Senior Deputy for Management and Operations) is
incapable for performing the function.
- Use process mapping and workload analysis to guide further realignment activity.
- The report does not offer possible realignment scenarios for OCC.
Staffing and ratio levels
- The optimal organization would be comprised of 546 employees -- over 100 employees more
than currently on staff (a 19% increase over the existing onboard staffing level).
- Recommends a 1:6 supervisor-to-attorney ratio in the Legal Services Group.
- Recommends a 4:6 support staff-to-attorney ratio visa-vis the Shared Services Group
(according to the staffing levels recommended in the report, the ratio would be closer to
- The categories and number of personnel would be as follows:
- Corporation Counsel (1)
- Principal Deputy (1)
- Senior Deputy (1)
- Advisors (4)
- Deputies (9)
- Assistant Deputies (20)
- Directors (16)
- Managers (14)
- Lawyer Supervisors (25)
- Supervisors (19)
- Senior Counsel (71)
- Counsel (122)
- Staff Lawyers (19)
- Executive Assistants (42)
- Investigators (12)
- Researchers (7)
- Paralegals (85)
- Clerical (61)
- other (21)
- Acknowledges that the Legal Services Act requires that the agency establish a
performance measure system that links pay to performance.
- Recommends that OCC continue its practice of providing a range of salary opportunities
so that higher achievers earn at the high end of the range when compared to less
- Recommends that OCC establish a mid-range of salaries that are at or near market
rates for the particular position.
- The consultant derived recommended salaries from its propriety databases and
- Summarizes comparable legal department salaries (all of which are higher than
salaries currently paid OCC in corresponding positions) as follows:
- Corporation Counsel $120,000 to $376,000
- Advisor $110,000 to $164,000
- Principal Deputy $135,000 to $200,000
- Deputy $122,000 to $170,000
- Assistant Deputy $122,000 to $170,000
- Lawyer Supervisor $122,000 to $170,000
- Senior Counsel $97,000 to $124,000
- Counsel $71,000 to $105,000
- Staff Lawyer $44,000 to $68,000
- Paralegal $37,000 to $62,000
- Claims Manager $45,000 to $85,000
- Claims Supervisor $45,000 to $70,000
- Claims Professional $30,000 to $60,000
- Shared Service Senior Deputy $80,000 to $235,000
- Shared Serviced Deputy $53,000 to $141,000
- Administrative Manager $65,000 to $91,000
- Administrative Supervisor $55,000 to $74,000
- An analysis of the cost of implementing comparable salaries based on Hildebrandt's
evaluation is attached to this report as a separate document.
- Reports that the average OCC attorney pay is some $6,500 less than the average
attorney pay in comparable city attorney's offices, when adjusted for cost-of-living
- States that average entry-level pay is 19% lower than in comparable city
- Reports that OCC's findings that the pay gap between federal attorneys and agency
attorneys (9.5% to 14.1%) is consistent with its findings regarding the disparity between
OCC salaries and city attorney's office salaries.
- Although the report estimates the cost of providing comparable salaries to be $2
million, this estimate is based on the "average" salary paid by OCC. It appears
that this amount does not include related costs for ARAs, benefits, etc., and it, thus,
underestimates actual costs.
- The report recommends processing pay adjustments promptly -- something that OCC is
- Recommends that workloads be measured to provide for 1700 hours of "billable"
legal services per attorney on, an annual basis.
- The report notes that currently OCC attorneys perform many activities that, in an
optimal organization, would be performed by support staff. This practice, Hildebrandt
estimates, results in a 20% decrease in attorney productivity. The lack of proper
technological support results in another 5% decrease in productivity.
- States that "the current environment of the OCC, which includes mandates such as
those imposed by the LaShawn Order[,] may require upward staffing adjustments to
allow the OCC to transition from its current workloads to an optimal workload."
- Based on OCC's self-reported workload information, the report recommends the following
workload amounts (number of matters per attorney):
- Appellate 21
- Appellate (Policy and Appeals) 57
- Economic Development 19
- Finance 30
- Land Use/Public Works 13
- Personnel/Labor Relations 36
- Procurement 52
- Contracts/Regulatory/Personnel 18
- Legal' Counsel 14
- Defensive Litigation 29
- Equity 16
- Affirmative Litigation (civil) 58
- Affirmative Litigation (fraud) 25
- Criminal (juvenile) 52
- Criminal (adult) 87
- Child Support 96
- Abuse and Neglect 30
- Domestic Violence 107
- Mental Health 300
- Reports that OCC attorneys are spending 25% to 50% of their time on non-attorney work.
Training and development
- States that comparable city attorney's offices offer formal 12-week training for new
attorneys and 6 half-day management training courses.
- Recommends that OCC's training budget be enhanced above current level of $87 per Legal
Service Act attorney.
- Recommends that OCC explore training alternatives, including partnering with federal
agencies and establishing an "OCC University" based on the Center for Excellence
in Municipal Management program.
- The report suggests a budget of $212 per attorney, though basis for this amount is not
- Advises that maximizing attorney performance requires that information technology play a
major role in managing internal processes and delivering legal services to clients.
- Recommends a 37:1 consumer-to-IT system support staff ratio. Recommends an annual IT
- $16,000 per attorney, and
- $10,000 per non-attorney.
- Suggests that OCC establish the following multifaceted case tracking/management
system, consisting of
- A Matter Management System ("MMS") to track all open matters or works in
progress. Such a system would assist with:
- checking conflicts,
- formulating realistic budgets,
- supporting time recording,
- illustrating trends by client, matter type, or opposing counsel, and
- improving OCC's ability to engage in strategic planning by analyzing workload data.
- An automated docketing system with available online access by attorneys and tickler
reminders of upcoming docket dates.
- An automated Document Management System ("DMS") that links to MMS and reduces
the amount of paper that must be handled and stored.
- A Litigation Support System that would allow members of a trial team to access
information simultaneously and copy it to their personal computers.
- A Case Management System that profiles key dates, players, events and links with MMS and
- Suggests that OCC consider the use of facsimile capability from the desktop and personal
digital assistants (to manage e-mail, calendars, addresses, etc.).
- Provides no cost estimates or recommended applications.
- Recommends that OCC install a centralized case management system that will
facilitate better supervision and oversight of line attorneys, improve office management,
and produce information that is needed for the development of budgets and organizational
- Such a system would assist with:
- maintaining calendars for each attorney,
- producing management reports,
- providing public access to information,
- responding to inquiries from clients on the status of matters, and
- compiling standard research, motions, and other work products associated with a
- Advises that the cost for the Nashville Legal Department's system was $170,000 for the
initial software investment and $15,000 for hardware. There is an annual $15,000
maintenance fee, and the agency employs one staff person, who is paid an annual salary of
$35,000, to run the system.
- Advises that the District's U.S. Attorney's Office has been allocated $1 million a year
for the past five years to run its office-wide management system, which incorporates a
case tracking system, personnel management functions, and a finance system.
- Recommends that OCC hire one or two dedicated personnel to support the system.
- Notes that a pilot case-management project is already underway at OCC.
Impact of the Adoption and
Safe Families Act
- The report states that the consultant's goal was to provide an optimal structure
for the agency as a whole, and that an assumption underlying the recommendations is that
OCC would implement technology enhancements and increased support for lawyers. The report
states that, "[i]n reality, the OCC might find the need to overstaff positions
as in interim measure."
- Under optimal conditions, recommends that the Abuse and Neglect Section be
staffed by 1 Assistant Deputy, 4 lawyer supervisors, 5 senior counsel, and 15 counsel (25
attorneys in total).
- However, the report states that "OCC has studied the situation carefully," and
it supports OCC's recommendation to create pre- and post-adjudication units as an interim
- According to background materials OCC submitted to Hildebrandt, the pre-adjudication
unit would consist of the existing attorney staff (18 lawyers).
- Recommends that two more supervisory positions be added to the post-adjudication
unit proposed by OCC. However, the report fails to delineate between the two
post-adjudication sub-units. One sub-unit (permanency) would consist of 12 trial
attorneys, 1 paralegal, and 1 investigator. The second sub-unit (TPR) would consist of 1
supervisory attorney, 10 trial attorneys, 1 paralegal, and 1 investigator.
- The omission of TPR sub-group appears to have been an oversight, given that Hildebrandt
stated that, under optimal conditions, the entire Abuse and Neglect Section, should
be staffed with no less than 25 attorneys and that OCC's estimates for the proposed
interim measure may, in fact, underestimate the real staffing needs.
- Reports that the optimal staffing ratio would be 30 matters per attorney in the Abuse
and Neglect Section, as previously recommended by OCC staff.
- Reports that, according to OCC calculations, ASFA will increase Appellate Division
caseloads by 60 to 100 cases per year. This would require 2 additional attorneys for the
- Recommends that OCC consider the following when developing an implementation strategy:
- changes in the court system relating to ASFA,
- changes required in OCC's matter management system to track cases according to
abbreviated time schedules,
- whether to establish a "triage" system to address existing cases,
- whether to establish a new matter intake team of lawyers to establish procedures to
ensure that OCC complies with the timing requirements, and
- hiring contract attorneys to support the transition toward optimal caseload levels.
Performance evaluation and
- Recommends that OCC transform the existing evaluation system for attorneys and support
staff into a performance management system that adopts the following parameters:
- it is based on a core competency model;
- the system is aligned with OCC's strategic objectives;
- it incorporates multi-source feedback with links to customer satisfaction;
- performance measures are based on objective criteria that focus on quantifiable measures
- performance appraisals are linked to compensation, promotion, development, and training;
- the evaluation process emphasizes clarity, simplicity, and communication.
- Suggests that OCC apply standards to both attorneys and support staff -- something that
OCC is already planning to do.
- In connection with the development of competency models, the report recommends that OCC
- develop competency profiles for each position;
- assess the extent to which incumbents meet the competency profiles;
- develop training and development action plans, as appropriate;
- terminate the employment of those employees who clearly fall below minimum competence
- monitor the performance of marginal performers.
- Recommends that OCC hold supervisors accountable by:
- establishing clear managerial standards,
- instituting a 360° feedback process,
- holding managers accountable for their own actions and those of their attorneys and
- replacing managers who are unwilling or unable to manage.
- Recommends that OCC consider the following factors in designing the optimal workspace:
- private spaces for confidential communications, study, research, and work;
- collaborative spaces for conferences; meetings, and projects;
- technology spaces; and
- knowledge management facilities.
- Suggests the following information for workspace planning purposes:
- lawyer offices: 180 sq. ft.
- secretary/assistant space: 90 sq. ft.
- conference rooms: 300 sq. ft.
- The report suggests that OCC consider outsourcing the following functions:
- investigative services,
- claims management services,
- clerical services,
- paralegal services,
- management services, and
- technology services.