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Six Sigma in Legal Departments

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Viewing 18 posts - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)
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  • #47718

    KP
    Participant

    I am a green belt at a law firm and am interested in learning more about how legal departments and/or law firms are currently using Six Sigma.   We are in the early stages of launching a six sigma program and are working on “back office” admin projects right now.  Once we have good successes under our belt, our goal is to move forward to practice management.  Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

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    #163062

    Karl Reynolds
    Participant

    I would be interested to hear how you are getting on with your use of six sigma. I am a lawyer in the UK and just writing my MBA dissertation on improving quality in law firms including the use of lean and six sigma.
    Do you intend to use it solely for your admin and management functions or can you ever see it being used in client service functions?
    Any overview of your successes would be greatly appreciated.
     

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    #163116

    cheezer
    Participant

    KP,
    I did a project at a former employer in their legal dept. The project was centered on contract errors and their associated costs. Whenever there was a disagreement between us and a customer due to a lack of clarity in a contract, it was COPQ, because even if we were covered by the contract there would be a cost of explaining the contract to the customer. Theoretically, anytime we had to re-visit a contract to determine what was said in the contract it was a defect, because it should’ve been possible to write a contract with everything spelled out. When the same type of contractual disagreements occur over and over, it’s easy to see how this is COPQ.
    One small example of a project within a legal dept. There were lots of other opportunities.
    Best of luck

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    #163119

    Tim
    Member

    KP – You’ll be able to write a book about your experiences, KP.  Among the problems you may come to face in terms of applying CPI to a firm’s practice will be (a) processes that are not well defined; (a1) attorneys love exceptions to rules, so lots of exceptions to the processes that you attempt to map; and (b) resistence to meaningful measurement.  Nevertheless, if you can convince the partnership that real money lies beneath your planned efforts, then you may be able to gain some cooperation.  In other words, you will be dealing as much with culture change as you will with anything else.  Among my suggestions for areas of pain/gain:  recruiting and retention of attorneys; pre-invoicing write downs; delayed/untimely invoicing; processes for clearing conflicts of interest; and reduction of staff overtime.  What sort of practice are you in?  I am aware of case studies applied to an international trademark practice. 

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    #163178

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    KP,
    I think you will find yourself in a bit of a cunundrum on this one. If you view things from the customers perspective they will be looking for quality representation at as few hours as possible. If you view it from the partnerships perspective and you find ways to cut hours you may find your career at risk.
    The interesting part when you speak with attorneys is they do the same nonsense that everyone else does. “We’re different.” and “every case is different.” It is a good thing we don’t have a thing called due process and a legal system. You will notice we completely reorganize the way a case is handled everytime someone files so that the steps are in a completely different order each time someone goes to court (you know sometimes they select the jury in the beginning, sometimes in the middle and sometimes at the end – or when they move summary judgement around that is always cool).
    The real issue with the legal system is that the money for the legal firms is not in the proactive work. It is in the clean up. Look at the Walmart thing where there were hundreds of litigants and what did the law firm promise? We will fight everyone of these cases! No sh_t. Figure out how big that bill is going to be. Who is fixing the system that created the opportunity to file in the first place?
    You may want to take some time to sit down with your management and find out what they want.
    Just my opinion.

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    #163179

    Steve Clapp
    Member

    KP,
    I did an improvement project to reduce legal invoice cycle times.  We were able to identify bottlenecks and unnecessary handoffs through value stream mapping.  As a result, we were able to automate much of the process where doing so made sense, eliminating a large portion of labor expense, paper waste, and time.
     
    I hope this project description spurs some thoughts on your end.  Good luck!
     
    Steve Clapp

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    #163182

    Brandon
    Participant

    I agree with both Mike & Steve; even though each addressed different aspects of the issue.
    Re: Mike. SS cannot be effectively applied to your core service; which is billing customers as many hours as they will stand for. Always has been, always will be. Your core service is not about efficiency, it is about selling time. You will not be rewarded for lowering this metric on a per customer basis.
    Re: Steve. You will be benefited by applying SS to all your operating processes. Attys are notoriously sloppy and slow with billings. Likely that’s because they are sloppy & slow in tracking and reporting their time to those who invoice. That’s one example of a potential area of benefit. Essentially all operating areas other than atty’s time charged to customers can be examined.

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    #163196

    fake accrington alert
    Participant

    But  first  you  have  teach them  statistics

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    #163224

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Brandon,
    That is what I said.

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    #163229

    Brandon
    Participant

    Mike – that’s why I said I agree with you.

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    #163232

    Ghana Rhea
    Participant

    Sorry Mike, but I have to say I’m with Brandon on this one.

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    #163233

    Brandon
    Participant

    Ghana, how did you see Mike & I differing – I thought we were in agreement.

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    #163235

    Mikel
    Member

    Brandon,
    You need to chill. The lady was agreeing with you.

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    #163237

    Brandon
    Participant

    Stan, she said she agreed with me in opposition to Mike.
    I agreed with Mike so I was asking her where she saw us differing.
    So, you chill or

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    #163238

    Brandon
    Participant

    Stan, continued..
    or read the posts more carefully.

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    #163242

    Mikel
    Member

    Brandon,
    You seem to want to fight these days. She agreed with your second post that you said the same thing.

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    #163244

    Brandon
    Participant

    Stan, I do not want to fight.
    She said “Sorry, Mike, but I have to  agree with Brandon on this one.”
    Mike & I agreed, I thought. I was asking her where she thought the difference was.
    And you said “Chill”. Now who is it who wants to fight?

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    #163245

    Mikel
    Member

    Not me.
    Go back and see if you can figure out what the lady said to you. She was clear.

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