Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Law Firm Innovation: How Firms Are Changing

How are law firms changing their practices to adapt to today's business climate?  Here are two examples of law firm innovations that focus on process improvement.

The College of Law Practice Management, an international organization that recognizes excellence in law practice management, recently announced the recipients of the 2012 InnovAction Awards. And the winners are:
  • Littler Mendelson was selected for Littler CaseSmart™. In response to a client challenge, Littler Mendelson developed Littler CaseSmart™, a solution that combines a re-engineered legal process (deployed in a client-dedicated, team-based model) that is built on a technology platform that allows for the strategic management of a high volume of administrative agency charges (such as federal, state, and local charges of discrimination), at a fixed, per-charge fee. Littler CaseSmart™ provides transparent, privileged, and real-time online access to the status of the client's legal matters, as well as a dashboard of key performance indicators, visual graphics, and reports. The Littler CaseSmart™ approach completely re-engineers the way in which matters are handled, maximizing the use of technology to anticipate attorney needs as they conduct research, prepare responsive documentation and perform legal and risk analysis in order to enhance efficiency while maintaining firm profitability.
  • Seyfarth Shaw was selected for its SeyfarthLean program. Well before the fall of the financial markets, Seyfarth leadership anticipated the need for better ways for a law firm to meet its clients' rapidly evolving needs for value, efficiency and continued high quality of legal services. Based on that simple goal, we have become the only large law firm to build a distinctive client service model – called SeyfarthLean – that combines the core principles of Lean Six Sigma with robust technology, knowledge management, process management techniques, alternative fee structures and practical tools. The broad, systemic use of such a model across multiple practice areas is unique to the legal profession and reflects a fundamentally different way of thinking about how to deliver legal services.
Process Improvements for Small Law Firms
While the InnovAction Award winners are both large law firms, small law firms can implement process improvements in their practice too. In fact, small firms can often implement change faster than large law firms.

By implementing process improvements, law firms can:
  • Increase efficiency
  • Improve client service
  • Improve profitability
  • Create a competitive advantage
Don't let the fact that you are a small firm with limited resources stop you from implementing process improvements. The idea behind process improvement is that it is an ongoing exercise. You make changes one step at a time, review the results, make more changes and keep repeating the process.

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