Lean Law Firms?
No, that isn't the title of my next book. I have zero interest in that industry. That said, one lawyer and blogger is on to something… how would you apply Lean principles to a law firm? The same questions could apply to any professional services firm, like consulting.
From the post, the author, Bruce MacEwen, does nice job of trying to bridge the gap for the skeptics who would wonder Toyota or something from factories could lend to a law firm. He writes:
Now consider what adopting the TPS in your firm would need. Here are just some thoughts:
- Can associates suggest changes to the KM system or procedures for finding precedent, template, and sample documents and clauses?
- How are assignments made? Who has input? What are the criteria?
- Are “vacuums” in training part of the assignment process? How are they monitored and addressed?
- Has anyone thought about how time worked is lost between the actual work and the final bill? Where are the leakages?
- Do associates have the opportunity to be exposed to other practice areas than the one they first choose, even tangentially?
- When partners are assembling teams for deals and cases, who has input?
The point is not, really, to suggest anything specific for your firm. The point is to suggest that you might embark on the continuing pursuit of excellence in all you day. Even matters so small as moving a parts shelf closer. For surely, part of the genius of the TPS is not just its concrete suggestions, multitudinous as they are: It's the sense of engagement it engenders. By some measures, Toyota workers generate one hundred times as many suggestions per capita as workers at their competitors.
That, without doubt, is the single most significant component of the genius of the TPS. Why wouldn't you want to embrace that?
The concepts of value streams (not suboptimizing just one function), employee engagement, kaizen… they're all applicable to law office management and processes, I would suppose.
It's a good read…. check it out…