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The Lean Law Firm

 Maximizing value and minimizing blog at a time.


Why pick your solutions before you understand your problems? Introducing Legal's First Performance, Profitability & Innovation Group

This week we announced the creation of the PPI Group: leveraging your legal expertise and our experience to drive performance, profitability, and innovation. 

We've joined forces with the legal industry’s top consultancy, Fireman & Company. We’re bringing together leading experts in pricing, process improvement, knowledge management, legal project management, and data analytics to create the industry’s first ever Performance, Profitability & Innovation practice.

Every law firm and legal department defines performance excellence differently. What they want and need depends on their unique challenges, their people, their culture. Until now, attorneys have had to hire individual consultants with specific expertise. They had to choose their solutions before they understood the root of their problems.

Our PPI Group changes all that. We start with an in-depth understanding of our clients’ needs, and then provide our clients with a flexible, integrated, comprehensive approach to improving legal service delivery. The result is much more than the sum of its parts.

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What's the Key to Excellence? Performance. Profitability. Innovation.

I wrote last fall about innovation in the legal industry—about how there's a lot of talk and little action. Since then, I feel like we've reached a tipping point. Every day I read about law firms using artificial intelligence, adopting legal project management, or hiring pricing specialists, attorneys managing workflows on Kanban boards or mapping legal processes.

It's all great. It's exciting. It's progress.

But is it enough?

Can any of those changes, alone, deliver the value clients want and the performance lawyers need?

The Altman Weil 2016 Law Firms in Transition survey makes it very clear: today's legal market demands a new approach.

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Lean Six Sigma - What is it and why do lawyers need it?

Everybody's talking about Lean in law. This post comes from the Gimbal archives. It's a great refresher, especially if you're wondering how Lean, Lean Six Sigma, and process improvement can help you become more profitable, more productive, and more competitive.

If you have clients in manufacturing or you work in-house, you may be familiar with the management strategies of Six Sigma. Six Sigma focuses on process quality and the elimination of variations and defects from products and services.

Lean is a comprehensive strategy for eliminating waste and increasing the flow of products and services. Lean separates “value adding” from “non-value adding” work, using well-known business and process management tools.

Lean Six Sigma combines these two related strategies, delivering quality and efficiency. Lean Six Sigma offers a broad set of tools to approach and resolve problems through a relentless campaign of review and improvement. And it’s not just for manufacturing. Service providers that implement Lean Six Sigma see marked improvement throughout their operations, including improved speed, quality and cost, faster response times, increased productivity from fewer resources, improved client satisfaction and greater profit.

Law is a service, whether lawyers provide it in a firm or in-house. Like all services, opportunities for waste abound: time getting back “up to speed” on a file; over-processing, reworking or correcting a document; delays obtaining information, signatures, opinions or decisions; unproductive time spent in meetings. The list goes on.

Lean Six Sigma provides attorneys with a new way of looking at legal and business processes. It helps identify and eliminate obstacles, waste and non-value-adding work on the file. It also gives lawyers a concrete way to determine what each step in the process costs, allowing a much more accurate means to set fixed fees for some or all parts of a file. In short, Lean Six Sigma gives lawyers the tools they need to adapt to the changing legal market we face today.

Why now? Because law faces a serious crisis. Our long monopoly over the provision of legal services is crumbling. In the UK, new rules permit non-legal entities to provide legal services traditionally reserved for solicitors. In North America, on-line providers offer flat-fee legal services in many practice areas, clients can build their own documents using services like the Association of Corporate Counsel’s new Contract Advisor, and alternative dispute resolution and arbitration increasingly shift litigation out of the courts.

Add to this growing client dissatisfaction with high hourly rates, tight budgets in the wake of the recession, and increasing competition from legal process outsourcers, and we can see why clients are starting to demand more for less from their attorneys. With its emphasis on measuring value, rather than time, Lean Six Sigma is one way to get there. Lean Six Sigma aligns client and lawyer interests. It allows lawyers to deliver the legal services their clients need, with greater cost certainty and often, at lower rates.

We teach lawyers how to apply Lean Six Sigma, from simple things like 5S to more complicated process and value stream maps. The benefits are obvious and measurable. Implement Lean Six Sigma in your law practice and you will see increased client satisfaction, more business and greater revenues. It’s a practical approach that will help you prevent or reduce client leakage.  

If you are in private practice, this can translate into more business, lower overhead and more profit.

If you are in-house,implementing Lean Six Sigma can lead to better relationships with your internal clients and your external legal advisors, as well as better cost predictability, reduced legal fees and less strain on your legal budget.

What your clients will see:

  • Better, faster, value-adding service
  • Less waste, reduced costs and more transparent billing
  • Greater predictability for their legal spend
  • Improved communication and responsiveness

What you will see:

  • Increased productivity
  • Faster response times
  • Improved efficiency and greater flow of quality work
  • Reduced costs and overheads
  • More time for business development or other pursuits
  • Increased motivation and professional satisfaction

More…for less.

Follow our blog, The Lean Law Firm, read more about the services we provide to lawyers and law firms, and contact us to find out how we can help you become a lean law firm.



Change is hard. What if you could practice first?

This isn't another piece about how you’ve got to change if you’re going to survive. If you don’t accept the need for change, or if you aren’t interested in learning how you can manage any kind of change better, then click here. (And good luck!)

If you're still with me, great, because organizations that excel at change can respond quickly to opportunities or threats, and align people around new ways of doing things. Those that master it build resilience and an enduring competitive advantage. But successful change requires buy-in, and creating buy-in is difficult work. If you get it wrong the first time, it's really hard to get the support you need to try again. What if you could practice change? Well, now you can. And we can help you.

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If innovation's such a hot topic, where are all the innovators?

This week I was a speaker at the American Bar Association Section of International Law fall meeting in lovely Montreal (full disclosure: I live there).

Innovation. Change. Innovation. Process improvement. Innovation. Efficiency. These words came out again and again all day. It’s exactly what we do at Gimbal. And yet, my phone is not ringing off the hook. Why, because innovation is hard and what makes us great lawyers also makes us lousy innovators.

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