- How can I apply resources more effectively?
- How can I shorten cycle time?
- How can I lower the cost of the service?
- Whilst raising the customer service?
J.Stephen Poor, chairman of Seyfarth Shaw, in his article for The New York Times, financial news service DealB%k, offers that lawyers today should be asking these non-traditional questions to meet the changing demands of the buyers of legal services.
What experience do Seyfarth have in this? well if you’d like to read Continuous Improvement in a Law Firm , you’ll get an idea of the results they achieved through their SeyfarthLean program, within the practice.
Secondly, Seyfarth, now advise General Counsel in adopting these techniques read about it in Lean Consulting from a Legal Firm ?…
Stephen goes on in the article Re-Engineering the Business of Law, from DealB%k, to share three core lessons from the, Seyfarth, experience of change;
1. Be Prepared to Examine and Reimagine the Business Model
He talks of the use of Lean Six Sigma borrowed from the Lean Manufacturing sector, in his law firm. He mentions that this has resulted in various tools, analyses and process improvement techniques intended to drive efficiency into the delivery of legal services – at ALL levels of the business.
Free Continuous Improvement Guide for Legal Firms – is our free insights paper in which we examine the 7 Frustrations found in many law firms and departments. Frustrations that lead reduce efficiency, hold back service delivery and increase costs.
If you have these frustrations then they will be wasting your time and effort.
The guide shows you what we look for and explores in more detail what improvement means for law firms.
We would add that if you have competitors doing things different, faster, cheaper than your organisation ask yourself
“What does the Customer see?” if they see the same service, the same output, how are you going to match it?
*We often use the word customer to replace client in our terminology.
If potential customers see both you and your competitor outputs as being the same, adding the same value; it might just be time to ask “How are they doing it, quicker, faster, cheaper?”
2. Don’t Settle for Half Steps
Process improvement is only part of the solution, it is never the complete answer. Seyfarth realised that trying to drive different behaviours would require them to address issues, such as associate evaluation and to re-examine their staffing models.
If you change how you do business it’s not unreasonable to realise you may need different metrics to measure it and different levels and numbers of skills within that business.
Stephen notes that “The point is not that our path is for everyone. The point is that the willingness to change and adapt business models must anticipate and address the variables that drive organisational success.”
He also makes the connection that “Marketing efforts are lovely; certainly, we all do marketing. But if one is to truly evolve a business model, the only way to avoid having it become simply a marketing effort is to recognise that it must drive through all parts of the organisation.” This is something that often change processes have failed to grasp, regardless of industry.
If you want to see our 2 page paper Legal Process Improvement v Marketing to see which has the greater effect on business performance then drop us a line , firstname.lastname@example.org or call Mark Greenhouse on 01904 277007.
3. Never Underestimate Resistance to Change.
“Never underestimate the resistance to change from lawyers”
Our experience tells us that every sector has its fair share of change resistors because you are dealing with people. Nonetheless these people have reasons and beliefs for not changing; our challenge and yours is to enable them to see what change is and why it is required and how they can contribute and shape it.
Stephen shares that they did “not anticipate the resistance from other crucial stakeholders – especially clients. Much of what we’ve done is most effective when deployed in a collaborative change process with clients.” This is based on the key learning that most of their clients are lawyers too, involving them in building the business case was critical.
If we can offer a tip here.
Many of your clients are working in organisations that have departments and personnel looking into improvement, many use lean or process improvement techniques. These people may not have made their way into the legal departments of your clients, why not invite them in?
His final notes could be applied to any sector;
“The nature of the process requires a continuous, but slow march toward improvement and adaptation. Some things we tried worked and some did not. Nevertheless, the continuous move forward takes persistence and, perhaps, a bit of stubbornness.”
Levantar have been promoting the use of Lean management tools in Law Firms, in the UK. contact Mark Greenhouse on 01904 277007 for more details.
Click on Lean Legal Process Improvement to find out more about the services offered.
About the Author
Mark Greenhouse has been working on the application of Lean management in Legal and design led Manufacturing companies for the past 5 years. His own Lean journey started back in 1988 when he started study of Operations Management . He’s applied lean in many organisation types, finance, call centres, banking, FMCG etc. Mark also provides lectures on operational management at Leeds University Business School.