A former managing partner at one of Boston’s most reputable law firms passed along a note to me recently, asking what I thought of an article in the American Lawyer Media.
The article was about the growing use of Six Sigma and other process improvement tools by law firms. Among other things, it noted how Seyfarth Shaw had utilized Six Sigma to discern roughly 250 steps involved in its securitization work related to financing, and how Seyfarth streamlined the process into 170 steps while enhancing the quality of outcomes. Not surprisingly, the firm’s clients with securitization work related to financing were thrilled at the faster service time and lower cost associated with the improvements.
So to answer my friend’s question: What do I think? I think this is the beginning of a trend. I think law firms who are early adopters will win the value challenge that every prized corporate client is now issuing. I know many lawyers will bemoan having to undertake yet another task “other than” practicing law, but this one is very much about HOW you practice and whether it is effective.
When I was practicing in-house, we were constantly pressured to streamline processes, to improve efficiencies using technology or other means, and to maintain or enhance quality at the same time. If you could not figure out how to do it, your company simply would not survive; and that is how it will be for ever more competitive large law firms.
Coming up next on this blog – an announcement about a new process improvement organization aimed directly at law firms and law departments.