The Lean Arm of the Law

The Lean Arm of the Law

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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Law firms are changing the way they do business.

Once upon a time, law firms could bill clients by the hour. If a case took 500 hours to wrap up, the law firm’s fee was 500 x their hourly rate. Things were simple. Straightforward. But it left clients at a disadvantage. Lawyers could work and work and work, comfortably earning a financial return for all the hours they put in.

Recently, however, when corporate clients have sought the help of law firms, those clients’ have one priority: control legal costs.

How do they accomplish this? By telling lawyers, “Work as much as you’d like. We’re paying you a flat fee. We’ll write you a check for 400 hours of work, and if you exceed that, then guess what? You’re working for free.”

How did most law firms respond? Not well.

Lean and Kean Miller Law

But Greg Anding (an attorney at the law firm Kean Miller) realized something – if his firm could work faster without sacrificing quality, they would actually benefit from this new payment approach.

So, in an effort to maximize efficiency, Kean Miller started training in Lean Six Sigma. They sought the help of Catherine Alman MacDonagh, founder of the Legal Lean Sigma Institute.

The law firm’s training is ongoing – they hope to be finished in Spring 2018, making them the first Louisiana law firm to formally train in Lean Six Sigma – and the efficiencies are already taking root. They’re educating everyone, from lawyers to clerks to paralegals, and they’re working hard to dissect existing processes and streamline their entire workflow.

Here’s an example.

Removing Bottlenecks and Improving Communication

Previously, all of Kean Miller’s partners were in a work rotation. If a case required testimony from a deposed expert, the partner at the top of the rotation would take the testimony. If that partner was unfamiliar with the case (or the expert offering testimony), there was a mountain of prep work required to get that partner up to speed.

Now, however, the rotation has been scrapped. The partner with the most familiarity will take the testimony. It cuts down on prep time for everyone, and keeps the entire firm running efficiently.

That’s the crux of Kean Miller’s plan – direct workflows through the people who can handle them most efficiently.

“It’s important to all be communicating and making sure we’re on the same page, and knowing whose strengths and specialties lie in which areas,” Anding told the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. “There may be things that person A is really good at doing and enjoys doing, and I’ve got person B doing it.”

In a field that is evolving, Kean Miller’s prospects look good. Law firms, after all, are like almost every business – they operate on a series of processes and systems. And like every other business, those processes and systems can be tweaked, adjusted and perfected to save time and energy.

  • Documents can be reviewed more quickly
  • Information can be catalogued more efficiently
  • Clients can be collaborated with more easily

It’s all been done by other law firms around the country. No two cases are exactly alike, but systems and processes are. That’s what Greg Anding, Catherine Alman MacDonagh, and Kean Miller are discovering together.

The post The Lean Arm of the Law appeared first on Six Sigma Daily.

By: James LoPresti
Posted: December 21, 2017, 1:00 pm

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