Posted by: johnocunningham | September 26, 2011

More Firms Focusing on Process and Project Management

A 2011 survey by Altman Weil released a few months ago demonstrates that 94 percent of 240 law firms surveyed are concerned with improving “efficiency” of their practices.

These respondents overwhelmingly affirmed that “the focus on practice efficiency” is the number one trend in the profession, and marked it as a “permanent change” rather than a temporary fascination.

The American Lawyer had already taken notice of this trend, publishing a number of pieces in recent years about the concept. In an April 2010 article, for example, they noted that Seyfarth Shaw utilized corporate-grown Six Sigma process analysis and improvement to identify roughly 250 components to their real estate and structured finance securitization work, reducing that number to 170 and passing the savings along to current clients while using the efficiencies to win bids for new clients as well. Reportedly, the entire firm thereafter adopted the Six Sigma approach for one aspect or another of their practice.

According to various trade publications, firms have similary started utilizing  “project management” training in order to better define tasks, identify and discover helpful resources, set deadlines, and develop budgets and schedules for major projects (something many firms at one time strongly resisted).

This emphasis on improving process management and project management will help larger firms to retain or even build upon their share of significant work done for significant clients.

It will also:

  • Enable law firm staff to do more work faster and with greater quality controls; and
  • Allow staff to understand their role better by improving both internal and external communication and collaboration.

In fact, the very act of undertaking process improvement and project management training communicates to clients that law firms “get it” now. For an example of one popular type of training in this area for law firms, check out the Legal Lean Sigma Institute.

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