Lean and Legal: A Combination Leading to Better Management of Law Firms

Lean and Legal: A Combination Leading to Better Management of Law Firms

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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Law firms provide clients services. However, “efficiency” hasn’t always been one of them.

This realization hit Calgary attorney Kyla Sandwith while working as an associate in a law firm, according to the University of Calgary. Sandwith realized process improvement has a place in the legal world as much as it does in manufacturing, healthcare and technology.

Years later, she’s now offering a course at the University of Calgary that teaches students how to employ Lean Six Sigma in a law firm.

Consulting With Legal Firms

Sandwith eventually earned a master’s degree in law firm management. She founded a company, called De Novo, that specializes in consulting with individual lawyers, law firms and corporate counsel offices on how to make a law practice more efficient.

De Novo offers law firms the chance to “work smarter, run leaner and deliver greater client value.” Lean Six Sigma plays a key role in this.

In her class at the University of Calgary, Sandwith works with future lawyers on developing better management and leadership skills. Part of the curriculum involves facing a real-world challenge. A recent class helped streamline training and the onboarding process at the law school’s Public Interest Law Clinic. The clinic advocates for systematic changes that lead to improvements for the community and the environment.

The group has made the clinic run much more efficiently and effectively, clinic leader Christine Laing told the University. Sandwith said such leadership skills, supported through Lean Six Sigma, are needed in the legal profession.

“As lawyers we are given immense responsibility and credibility in a variety of situations that require leadership skills like how to motivate people, how to work with people, and how to effectively work within a team,” she said. “But we are never taught those skills.”

Lean and Law Firms

Sandwith’s company and the class at the University of Calgary are two of the latest examples of applying Lean Six Sigma in the legal world.

It makes perfect sense. The legal profession is loaded with processes. Lean Six Sigma focuses on cutting waste from processes, always with an eye on improving value to clients. That makes Lean and legal a good match.

You can read more about Lean and the legal profession here, but some of the areas Lean can help include:

  • The enormous amount of paperwork and document review done in the legal profession
  • Producing the bound volumes at the end of each case
  • Working more effectively with clients

All these were used by global law firm Clifford Chance to improve their operations. Another example comes from a Louisiana law firm that used Lean Six Sigma to devise a better way to depose witnesses. At 7-11, the corporate legal team won an award for incorporating Lean techniques to realign staff, including the use of process mapping to find areas of waste.

The Growth of Lean Six Sigma in Education

As the value of Lean and Six Sigma is discovered by leaders in more industries, education programs have emerged to teach students the value of process improvement. Ed Hayes is a Lean Six Sigma instructor for Villanova University and has worked 35 years in the legal profession.

He said in an interview that applying Lean Six Sigma to legal operations is a natural fit. He specifically mentioned process mapping and SIPOC Diagrams, both of which can help better identify areas that need improvement.

Even Swedish car company Volvo has gotten into the game, funding education for high school students in South Carolina in Lean manufacturing. And high schools and colleges across the country and around the world are not only offering Lean Six Sigma courses, but asking students to apply what they learn to tackle real-world problems, some of them on the campus itself.

The post Lean and Legal: A Combination Leading to Better Management of Law Firms appeared first on Six Sigma Daily.

Original: https://www.sixsigmadaily.com/lean-and-legal-leading-to-better-management-of-law-firms/
By: admin
Posted: January 24, 2019, 11:00 am

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