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The Lean Law Firm

 Maximizing value and minimizing waste...one blog at a time.

Thursday
Jan292015

Process Benchmarking for Lawyers: It’s not where you stand, it’s how you get there.

I came across an interesting article by Michael Carver with the provocative title, Benchmarking is Not an Option. The title is somewhat tongue-in-cheek: benchmarking is not an option because it’s a requirement for success. Although it isn’t about law firms, the article provides some great insight into the two kinds of benchmarking law firms should be thinking about.

Market intelligence provides a benchmark for where your firm stands in relation to similar firms on things like price point, reputation, market share, and profits per partner. It’s critical to understanding your place in the market. But it doesn’t tell you anything about how your competitors actually achieve their results, nor does it help you figure out how you can do the same thing.

For that, you need process benchmarking.

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Thursday
Jan222015

Inside a Legal Process Improvement Project. Part 3: Implementation

Welcome to the final instalment of our series, What does legal process improvement look like? In Part 1, we explained the preparation. In Part 2, we described process mapping. In this Part 3, we’ll explain the last steps: creating an implementation plan and then the biggie: actually implementing it.

Day 3’s objective was to create an implementation plan with fixed goals, timelines, and responsibilities. The team had generated a lot of improvement opportunities—small and large—over the course of the first two days. It was time to take a hard look at each idea and start prioritizing.

You should note that an improvement opportunity is not a solution, or even a potential solution. Rather, it is a point in the process that the team has decided needs to be improved.

To help the team prioritize their many improvement opportunities, we used a PICK chart.

A PICK charts is a simple two-by-two matrix that pits the ease of implementation against the potential impact of the improvement (the payoff).

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Monday
Jan122015

Inside a Legal Process Improvement Project. Part 2: Mapping

Welcome to Part 2 of our three-part blog giving you the inside scoop on what you can expect to do during a legal process improvement project. In Part 1 we described the preparation phase of a project to improve the incorporations process in a law firm. This post explains what happened when we arrived on-site for the first 2 days of a three-day process mapping event. You'll learn about mapping the current state (on Day 1) and designing the future state (on Day 2) of the target process. In Part 3 of this series we will describe how, on Day 3, the team created an implementation plan for the proposed improvements and presented the results to the project champion.

Day 1

We began Day 1 with a review of the charter, a description of the days to come, and a quick overview of Lean’s DMAIC approach (Learn more about applying DMAIC in law). We also reviewed the 8 wastes that often interfere with workflow and hamper productivity. Then we got really got rolling as the team shared their frustrations with the existing process. This inital conversation about the process gave the team critical insight into where they needed to focus their attention later in the improvement project, and the team returned to their list of frustrations frequently throughout the three-day event. The lawyers attended this kick-off and left, knowing their concerns had been heard. They would return at the end of the day to add their part to the process map.

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Wednesday
Jan072015

Inside a Legal Process Improvement Project. Part 1: Preparation

Many lawyers and law firm professionals find it hard to imagine the reality of a legal process improvement project. How much time will it take? What will happen? Who has to attend? What are the outcomes?

Well, here’s how it worked for one of our clients. Their story provides a great example of a typical legal process mapping project with Gimbal. We've broken it down into three blogs. This Part 1 describes the preparation phase that happens with every client before we arrive on-site. Part 2 describes the first two days of our on-site visit: mapping the current state and designing the future state of the targeted process. Part 3 explains how we help teams develop their implementation plan for achieving an improved process.

Our client asked us to help improve their incorporations process. Incorporations were taking too long, and the cost to the firm was higher than what the market would bear for the work. Our role was to guide the team in creating a more time- and cost-efficient process (their future state) and establishing the implementation plan that would get them there.

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Tuesday
Dec092014

What's the secret to a more efficient practice? Hint: You've already got it. 

Non-Utilized Talent and the Altman Weil 2014 CLO Survey

Altman Weil’s latest survey came out recently. The survey polled Chief Legal Officers at public and private companies across the US about the internal workings of their departments and their relationships with external counsel. Two things really jumped off the page for me.

First:

Only 4% of Chief Legal Officers are satisfied with the traditional legal service delivery model.

If you practice corporate law in a law firm, doesn’t that make you at least a little worried about your future?

For any business, that level of client satisfaction is a disaster. If you run a law firm, or work for one, and only 4% of your client base is happy with your service delivery model, it’s time to change.

Unfortunately, clients don’t seem to hold out much hope for change. Forty-two percent of CLOs like to work with innovative law firms, but only 6% think that law firms are capable of leading a change in the profession. Those statistics should be making law firm leaders think hard about ways to innovate and improve. Stay tuned…we’ll be posting our blog on this soon.

Second:

The in-house effort that yielded the greatest improvement in efficiency was the reorganization of internal resources.

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