Continuous Improvement in the Legal Sector
A great example of the impact of continuous improvement is the incredible impact they have had on the British cycling team. The main emphasis is that these improvements are small, gradual and frequent steps to achieve marginal gains, rather than trying large, complex and resource-intensive improvement projects. It is also important, as the process progresses to improve, to prepare for possible conflicts that this initiative could cause. Certainly, some people – often including partners in a law firm – will resist any change in the way things have traditionally been done, even if these old methods no longer work as well. Fred Esposito: A key question will probably be: “Where do we start and how do we choose which projects to approve?” And when it comes to a particular legal or business process, they might ask, “What`s stopping that process from making that process more efficient? Is that our policy? Technology? Is it a training or communication problem? Our role as process enhancers is to ensure that no one jumps too quickly towards solutions, but also to choose the methodology, approach and tools that are appropriate for the particular situation. You can`t expect improvement unless you first measure the starting point as a baseline and then measure it continuously. Set your standards at the beginning and track performance with them at regular intervals. The key to this is to measure – opinions and “instinctive feeling” cannot be measured and therefore cannot be used to ensure that progress is being made. Morgan Lewis is another exceptional provider of innovation and customer efficiency. Founded in 2004, the firm`s eData practice consists of partners, employees and technology staff dedicated exclusively to the electronic aspects of legal services, from e-discovery to pre-process data management and information governance. The practice group is roughly evenly divided into lawyers from various practice areas – labour and employment, financial services, antitrust law, intellectual property – and technology experts. All are certified in Legal Lean Sigma methods.
If you cannot measure (a) your baseline (where you are) and (b) the results of your actions, it will not be possible to carry out a continuous improvement process. The need for project management and other fee arrangements has been at the forefront for many legal innovators in previous cycles, but these things are not enough. In addition to managing and pricing legal services, we also need to carefully identify and define issues and opportunities – and it`s not just about identifying waste and what`s going on in a process. It is important not to solve too early, but to identify why waste occurs and to arrive at the cause. Continuous improvement is not just about improving. It`s about finding out what`s no longer good for the company. Often, it is the bad habits that harm performance that the good ones to follow. By establishing a plan for continuous improvement and investing time to establish a solid foundation in all areas of your business, you give it every chance of success – increased profits, satisfied employees and customers, a good reputation and adaptability to challenges.
How has the idea of process improvement prevailed in the legal industry in the wake of the pandemic? Fred Esposito of Rivkin Radler explains how more and more law firms are using this idea today, which is why a continuous mindset is based on goals without an end goal, as it fosters curiosity and allows the team to always strive to improve. Openness and willingness to change must be a culture embraced by front-line employees and management to see the true impact. In a new series of blog posts, we discuss process improvements with Fred Esposito, coo of regional law firm Rivkin Radler. Esposito has over 25 years of experience in law firms and accounting firms, is an author and speaker specializing in financial and organizational management, process improvement and project management, and has worked in an advisory capacity with several national and international law firms. He is also a Senior Consultant at the Legal Lean Sigma Institute and Certified Green Belt in Legal Lean Sigma called Project Manager. He is currently working on his Black Belt certification. After seeing what happens in a process, we discover why these things happen in the analysis phase. It is important that we do this before implementing any fixes or solutions so that the company has a basis for measuring improvements. As litigation approaches, eData works with clients to develop an information governance strategy, a holistic approach to data lifecycle management that addresses the creation, storage, access, search and retrieval, security, retention, and disposal of records across the enterprise. Stephanie A.
“Tess” Blair, senior partner in Morgan Lewis` eData practice, notes that while 10 years ago most companies` perspective was to “keep everything,” many companies are now buried in the data. Information governance systems allow companies to know where information is stored and who has access to it, Blair explains, which helps meet legal and business obligations and facilitates investigative practices when necessary during litigation. Such a framework provides guidance on what to keep or discard, reducing unnecessary data retention while maximizing access to critical knowledge resources within an organization. Its goal is to make information an asset of an organization, not a burden. This, in turn, brings the real value to the net worth. When the group adopted discovery for a high-tech company`s process portfolio, the group achieved cost savings of 30% in the first year – a figure that eData says will continue to improve over time through continuous process improvement. Another pharmaceutical company realized 50% savings when eData developed a custom discovery strategy and replaced its predecessor`s ineffective “Grab Everything” strategy. When law firms start looking around and comparing themselves to their peers, most don`t make an adequate comparison of apples to apples in terms of business performance – this is one of the shortcomings of benchmarking performance data. Comparing the revenue and performance of a 50 law firm with another 50 law firm is not necessarily a good comparison unless the firm`s infrastructure, compensation, and support models are also the same, which is unlikely. And that`s because revenues and other key performance indicators are generated differently depending on practice areas and support in creating legal services. It`s important to note that any form of process improvement or transformation effort always puts the customer at the center of the experience – in this way, a customer-centric approach is at the heart of simplifying legal processes (LPI).
In fact, LPI work is often done by law firms at the explicit insistence of clients. Sutherland discusses the continuous improvement process established by Kaizen as part of the cycle of regular reviews of processes and results. Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma tools and techniques are applied to legal service delivery processes to improve quality, reduce resource requirements and deliver faster. In general, significant improvements can be made to the legal and administrative processes associated with achieving legal outcomes. In this way, legal processes can be made more efficient and effective and the quality of legal outcomes can be improved. Lean and Six Sigma are an ideal combination. However, lawyers have a negative and sometimes valid answer when they reduce their work to a process with little or no variation. We will postulate that introducing a combination of Lean and Six Sigma to innovate in traditional litigation in the first place may be too much. On the contrary, the focus on Lean First leads to significant and measurable improvements in your practice.
The best part is that it can be implemented with a few customizations.  This article is part of a series designed to help lawyers, legal teams and firms of all shapes and sizes understand how legal project management (LPM) and related disciplines such as legal process management and legal portfolio management are fundamentally changing the way lawyers work. These changes are crucial to the sustainability and transformation of the legal profession. It is a proposal for change or death that began with the economic turmoil of the technological wreckage and continued to gain ground after the global financial crisis and will certainly intensify with the COVID-19 pandemic.