Can service methodologies such as lean six sigma change how legal work is done?

Much has been said about legal process improvement in recent years. But how much has been proven? Methodologies such as lean six sigma and business process design have been utilized for decades in other industries such as manufacturing or consumer goods, but professional services, and particularly the legal industry, have faced unique challenges when it comes to utilizing these approaches in any meaningful way: culture, compensation and at its core, the law firm business model itself are often obstacles to success.

We’ve learned that these challenges can be overcome; incrementally and with purpose. A growing number of progressive organizations have pioneered the use of lean six sigma approaches to not only optimize front and back-office processes, but to also change how services are priced, packaged and profited from. With appropriate understanding, support and commitment to push through inevitable obstacles, measureable results can be achieved.

Nexlaw has worked with law firms, corporate counsel and other organizations to help them understand and apply these approaches. With decades of business and practice experience including black belts in lean six sigma, we work with clients to carefully analyze and “deconstruct” any given process down to its essential components and resources, then redesign processes for optimal value based on metrics that matter the most.

Education

Nexlaw can help organizations understand service design its potential value from a real-world perspective, providing practical examples of where and how lean and six sigma principles can be applied and what results can be expected. We have done this via one-day workshops, webinars or customized training and practical education for both lawyers and professional staff.

Strategy

We emphasize rapid testing and learning over abstract planning and business theory in every one of our projects. However, a big picture should be painted and before undertaking any business process to best understand the opportunities and risks ahead. Nexlaw has helped craft business and technology strategies that tie together legal process design and firm or practice strategies from marketing to business development to delivery, ensuring alignment where necessary.

Design

When the decision is made to put these approaches into practice, Nexlaw can help properly design changes in operation and execution. From internal processes that impact back office procedures to client or market-facing changes in service delivery, we can plot a course to rollout and monitor new processes with confidence.

Implementation

With a properly designed approach, we’ve helped organizations implement process design efforts from smaller scale pilot efforts focused on a single client relationship to broader lean six sigma programs to be deployed across entire practice areas or “centers of excellence” within in-house teams. Change management is not be underestimated here, and we’ve helped clients through these challenges with tact.