Peer to Peer Magazine

Summer 15

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

Issue link: http://epubs.iltanet.org/i/549141

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PEER TO PEER: THE QUARTERLY MAGA ZINE OF ILTA 84 that change means will vary. We'll review processes, technologies, staffing and challenges they face, and we have to be nimble enough to find the approach that matches varying problem sets. Kim: In some organizations with heavy process improvement programs, legal has not been incorporated into the program. We're finding many law departments don't practice Six Sigma; without some tailoring, it hasn't been an advantageous discipline. It's been helpful to think about how to apply Lean Six Sigma and take from it what really fits for legal. Andrew: That's a good point. We've had instances where we talked with legal departments tied to companies that have a strong corporate culture centered around Six Sigma or Lean, and what might be the right fit for other verticals of the business doesn't mesh well with legal. Some clients have reservations on how these principles can be applied, but it's positive dialogue because of our experience applying Six Sigma and Lean to the legal domain. That breaks down a lot of barriers. What are some tools and methods for process mapping and process improvement? Kim: We look at process mapping as one of the many tools that can enhance efficiency. If we're doing a process improvement project and there's a heavy emphasis on capturing the current state, we'll do client interviews and look at data to establish a baseline so we can measure where we're starting and how the client will progress against that. Process mapping comes into play when we're looking to capture current state. We conduct brainstorming events to put together the model and hypotheticals What motivated the decision to form SeyfarthLean Consulting? Kim Craig: It was a response to client demand. 10 years ago, Seyfarth began exploring Lean Six Sigma approaches to reimagine the way we would deliver legal services. The tools and methods we developed and were applying to service delivery for our firm's attorneys were made available to clients. That transparency led to clients asking if we could apply Lean approaches to help them deal with their own operational challenges. What motivates clients to seek services in legal process improvement? Andrew Baker: From a general profile of a company, we haven't seen one set of characteristics that stands out significantly. The one somewhat unifying trait that's qualitative is "forward-thinking." The people who come to us have recognized a big problem or feel like things could be done differently, but they don't know exactly what that means or how to address it. Progressive general counsel and leaders in the legal department looking for change are the people we gravitate toward. What Starting with process improvements in law firm operations, Six Sigma and Lean thinking have become pervasive throughout the culture of Seyfarth and changed the way Seyfarth's legal teams deliver services to clients. Seyfarth used these process improvement methods to drive value for their clients through more efficient delivery of legal services, better quality of services, lower cost and greater budget predictability. Spurred by overwhelming demand from their clients, Seyfarth is again breaking new ground with the reformation of SeyfarthLean Consulting, a dedicated team of 30 technologists, legal project managers, data analytics specialists and process improvement professionals who work with clients and law firm partners to improve the delivery of legal services. SeyfarthLean Consulting directors Kim Craig and Andrew Baker recently shared more about their efforts. LESSONS LEARNED Nearly 10 years ago, Seyfarth Shaw blazed a trail as the first major law firm to apply Six Sigma and Lean process improvement methodologies to better serve the needs of their clients. Taking Lessons from SeyfarthLean About the Author James Kittle is the Managing Director at Firm Technology Partners (FTP), an IT consulting and managed services provider based in New York. He is also on the Board of Directors for the Project Management Institute's Long Island Chapter. Prior to forming FTP, James designed and built the first computer network at the NYU School of Law, led technology operations for Vinson & Elkins in New York, and built and led the firm's project management office. James is a PMP, Six Sigma Green Belt, an Agile Certified Scrum Master and Scrum Product Owner. Contact him at jameskittle@firmtechpartners.com.

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