3 Powerful Approaches to Process Improvement in the Law (Edge Int'l)


Over the last year, I have noticed a very tangible increase in law firms and in-house departments interested in reviewing and revising their core processes for delivering legal services. The drivers, as in so much else, are primarily rooted in price pressure, financial performance and a push for improved efficiency. Undertaking this work requires an acknowledgment that all work is a process of some sort, not always easy for lawyers who can view the core legal work they do as a "black box" - un-chartable territory. In preparation for a book on Legal Process Improvement, I have begun to look more closely at the different approaches that can be used to map and review legal process.


Process Improvement (PI) Projects


Tackling a single process or practice area using PI tools is a common starting place. These projects require a disciplined and methodical approach to reviewing and improving the process, which can be a challenge in law firms where project rigor is not always applied to the core lawyer's work (although with the growing use of Legal Project Management this is changing).


There are a wide range of process improvement methodologies used that mostly originated in manufacturing. The two best known today are Six Sigma and Lean, sometimes used together. Home-grown variants and tailored derivations of these complex and industrial-scale tools have sprung up in many sectors, including legal and I am finding more law firms and corporate legal departments who have used Lean Six Sigma to overhaul their processes every month. .....

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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