As firm administrators, we are constantly looking at ways to improve the performance of our firms. Whether that improvement comes in terms of our hiring or onboarding processes, deciding whether or not to increase our assistant-to-attorney ratio, decreasing our costs and increasing our bottom line, there is always room for improvement. In a time when becoming more efficient in our operations and more effective in our delivery of legal services is more important than ever, firms both big and small need to start looking at new ways to achieve measurable results. It does not always come down to doing more with less—it is also about making sure resources are appropriately recognized and utilized. With that goal in mind, I recently had my operations coordinator take a webinar on the benefits of implementing Lean Six Sigma and its philosophies into our firm. After those webinars, we began to research further the benefits of implementing Lean Six Sigma into our own firm and I am highlighting what we have learned so far below.
For those of you not familiar, Lean Six Sigma combines techniques from both Six Sigma and Lean Processing and focuses on improving quality and efficiency by eliminating waste. Under Lean Six Sigma, there are eight types of “waste” to consider—defects, overproduction, waiting, nonutilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and extra processing. At first glance, discussing these categories of “waste” may seem more logical in the manufacturing as opposed to the legal services market. While Seyfarth Shaw and Clifford Chance were early adopters of Lean Six Sigma in the legal services industry, it is still rare to see it considered in law firms. However, many professionals have found that Lean Six Sigma philosophies can help any business in any industry, or at least help a business approach a reoccurring problem in a novel way.
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