Peer to Peer Magazine

September 2011

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

Issue link: http://epubs.iltanet.org/i/43128

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LESSONS LEARNED A Mapping of the Minds by Kim Craig, Director of Project Management Office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP Attorneys and paralegals, some of whom I've worked with for years, came together in a collective effort to share best practices and create a process map. This effort was not just to capture the steps of a A systematic, routine process. This endeavor was focused on a fairly complex legal scope of work. For hours, these subject-matter experts shared expertise and lessons learned from their years of experience. They listened to each other and came together as a team to build out best practices for this specific legal work. As a certified project management professional, my role in this meeting was to lead an exercise with highly skilled, extremely busy legal professionals to discuss and identify best practices focused on efficiencies for the delivery of their legal work. BEGINNING THE JOURNEY What made this event so unique and remarkable? In my almost 30 years of working with and for attorneys in a variety of roles, I have not found them to be particularly enthused about sitting in a room for hours, spending nonbillable time to share their proprietary knowledge. In my role as the facilitator, I was responsible for creating and fostering a cohesive, collaborative team synergy with some of the most senior experts in our firm, to discuss in detail a topic for which I am not the subject-matter expert. The mapping team consisted of timekeepers at all levels, and nonlegal staff that support and touch the process. Though they all volunteered to partake in the process-mapping exercise, I knew some were skeptical, and it was my job to convince them that the effort would be worthwhile. To accomplish this, I discussed expectations and objectives for the event, which were to: • Identify best practices • Determine appropriate staffing 104 www.iltanet.org Peer to Peer ll that remains are the markers, crumpled pieces of paper and empty coffee cups. But looking around the room at the walls covered with sticky notes and scribbles, I am impressed with the development of the past few hours. • Estimate cycle time for each task and the overall work • Identify and/or create job aids (e.g., templates, checklists and guidelines) relative to the work Getting the first few tasks extracted from a team is always the most challenging element. However, within 15 minutes, the team realized that the wealth of knowledge, education, training and real-work experiences they possess do, in fact, provide the basis for laying out the road map. Soon the team was fully involved in debating scenarios and factors that influence strategies and approaches, and they strived to define best practices for handling each of these variants. These discussions produced several significant results. Many attorneys gained a better appreciation for the extensive work that paralegals and administrative assistants invest in the completion of final client work products. "Within 15 minutes, the team was fully involved in debating scenarios and factors that influence strategies and approaches." The team also learned about the issues that add to cycle times and how those situations can be better managed to mitigate the impact. For example, in our meeting, a team member shared the challenges encountered when he was brought in to work on a matter well after the matter was initiated. This required the rework of several documents that had already been drafted since he was not familiar with the facts or strategy of the matter. This topic provided a great opportunity to discuss and tout the benefits of the "project team" approach. Through this approach, the team would:

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