Traditionally very attached to the search for efficiency, lawyers in the firms are more and more sensitive to the search for efficiency to face the constrained resource environment, which affects them closely.
DEFINITION OF EFFICIENCY IN LAW FIRMS
The law firm has always been renowned for its efficiency:
- They are the ones we come to find to get out of an inextricable situation.
- They strive to seek customer satisfaction.
- They aim for excellence.
- Their deliverables are often taken as a reference.
But this search for efficiency is rarely accompanied by the reflection on the mobilization of resources. It is necessary to achieve the result.
In this scenario, we could then speak of efficiency. Efficiency asks whether the means allocated to carrying out a task are proportional to the desired and obtained result. In other words and to use the formula: efficiency is to seek effectiveness at a lower cost; it is to maximize results while minimizing efforts.
The resources used by the firms being the time spent by the trainees, the collaborators, the associates, and the tools used to achieve these ends like (documentary databases, analysis of precedents, production of elements).
WHY LOOK FOR EFFICIENCY IN A LAW FIRM
The search for efficiency is counter-intuitive with the logic of the hourly rate: a priori, the lawyer who seeks to spend as little time as possible. To mobilize as few resources as possible on a case would be the loser since the invoice thus established would be less critical than for the lawyer who will not have had this efficiency process.
Increase customer satisfaction
However, as practitioners know, customer satisfaction also depends on the firm’s ability to process cases quickly by explaining the elements to the client. The main criteria that guide the choice of a law firm as communicated to us by the Legal Departments are above all:
- The interpersonal relationship with the partner
- The reliability of the practice
- The technical quality of the service
- Respect of deadlines
- The availability of teams during the mission
- Listening quality
- The involvement of the partner on the mission
- The operational nature of the recommendations
None can fully achieve these qualities if the production is artisanal and not a search for efficiency within the team working on a file. By improving the firm’s efficiency or team, lawyers are better able to take the time to adapt each answer given, each advice given, and thus increase the value provided by their work.
HOW TO ADOPT AN EFFICIENT PRODUCTION APPROACH IN A LAW FIRM
The search for efficiency, resulting from new management methods and particularly from “Lean Six Sigma,” supposes to question how things are produced to adapt behavior and tools in a common direction. Some ways to achieve this:
- CLEARLY DEFINE THE PURPOSE- THE VISION AND MISSION OF THE FIRM
The formalization of the vision and the mission of a Law firm, and exercise too often neglected, makes it possible to analyze the actions carried out and determine what has its raison within the firm and what must come out of it. The vision defines the reasons to be of the firm; doing things is formalized in the mission.
For example, a very high-end firm selling particular expertise in competition law would not be efficient in processing Minutes of Annual General Meetings production.
- SET UP THE PROCESSES TO SHARE KNOWLEDGE
Knowledge sharing is the keystone of an efficient production system in Law firm. It brings together very varied types of knowledge and, in particular: document models, production of notes, case law research, legislative and regulatory news.
On each of these subjects, a firm or a team must define the optimal sharing system:
- Common database
- Regular but quick working and sharing meetings (30 minutes) where the floor is left to the executing force of the cabinet
- Consolidation of internal newsletters & for clients to set the doctrine of the firm or the team.
- MAKE USE OF THE DATA ALREADY EXISTING WITHIN THE FIRM
Law firms make little use of the work carried out on precedents: if a person can remember a case or a case dealt with, there is generally no tool, process, or habit, allowing them to exploit the precedents systematically.
The windfall represented by the sum of cases handled by partners from the same firm is little used and constitutes an essential first step in searching for efficiency. The implementation of Feedbacks is the first step in successfully exploiting this data.
The profession of the lawyer is an intellectual profession by nature. The search for the volume of business often generates the risk of degradation of the quality of the advice. The search for efficiency makes it possible to increase the volume of files processed while controlling the quality brought to the processing of these files.