Lean Law is the practice of law as a business and the way of the future. There are a number of ways you and your organization can learn about the application of Lean methodology to law practice and legal processes. Lean management relies on team effort to improve efficiency, speed, and performance by systematically removing waste from a process and increasing its flow. Law firms and legal departments should be adopting Lean, Lean Six Sigma, and Agile as part of their processes. Here we discuss four ways to go about it.
If you want to become a Lean facilitator, you need to immerse yourself in a full course and obtain a certification when you complete your studies. There are many offerings, online or at a college or institute. This is a lengthy (many months) and expensive (many thousands of dollars) undertaking, but it is the only way to take a deep dive into the concepts and their application, and to develop the expertise to facilitate a Lean transformation. The Expert has to be someone with legal management experience and well-rounded skills, such as communication, leadership, and organizational. Also, attributes like EQ, empathy, positivism, and perseverance will go a long way in effectuating change management.
If you want to learn the concepts and familiarize yourself with how to use some of the many Lean tools, a 2-3-day course can give you a white or yellow belt and the basics. These certifications are expensive (a few thousand dollars) per person; so if you want to train a group of people it is an expensive undertaking. You will walk away with the basics, will get hands-on practice with some scenarios and mock exercises, and have fun while doing it. But these certifications are not enough to develop a full grasp of the tools that are available, their application, or the Lean potential. There are many providers that can offer this service in-house or at certain conferences.
If you want your team to get introduced to Lean or Lean Six Sigma, a half-day or full-day workshop, in your office, is a great, inexpensive, way to introduce the Lean culture to your team and get buy-in for future development plans. If you have a vision of enterprise change management or transformation is being considered, this is the way to start.
If you have a discrete project you want to launch or a current process problem you want to solve, hiring a Lean facilitator is a great way for you and your team to experience Lean and its usefulness. Start with a project that is narrow in scope, with KPIs which you should measure at the onset of the project and at point the solution is implemented. This way you will be able to demonstrate the ROI of the exercise and obtain future buy-in for additional projects or to develop an internal Lean team with your own facilitator onsite.
In EVERY CASE, however, you need to get trained by someone that brings not only the Lean expertise but also the experience and knowledge in dealing with legal issues, problems, processes and lawyers. Lean Law, like Agile Law, needs to be molded to serve our legal purposes. Finding a Lean Six Sigma expert with zero or little practical experience with lawyers and legal processes, is not the optimal path.
Lourdes Slater, CEO, Karta Legal LLC, 2019