LEGAL PROCESS ENGINEERING
In our experience, re-engineering can be applied in every facet of legal practice as well as internal administrative processes. In our re-engineering work we adopt a ‘partnering’ role, to provide expertise, guidance and a good dose of provocation to help law firms re-engineer.
Legal Process Engineering
Organisations re-engineer in response to competitive challenges – forward-looking organisations start early when they see negative trends, but many only do so when the threats are very real – ‘the wolves are already at the door’, which can result in panic measures. Reasons for law firms to consider re-engineering in a business area is when any of the following are evident:
- Eroding margins – as is the case in many areas of Private Client.
- Increased competition from existing firms.
- New low cost competitors – new model providers and internet-based rivals, for example.
- Talent Management - limited supply of lawyers challenge current ways of working.
- Regulatory compliance - more robust and consistent processes required.
We typically find the following to be true in most law firms:
- There is often little process thinking in law firms – so firms have little understanding of process performance and cost.
- The process often depends on who is performing the job – each Partner/Solicitor will perform the matter differently depending on their office or team, meaning that the service provided and the cost of providing it will be inconsistent and there is no guarantee that specific tasks have been performed or performed as required (which has risk implications).
- Processes have been defined as ‘this is how we do this job’ and have often been unchanged for years even if they have been automated by case management. This means that a lot of waste will typically be present in the process (e.g. rework, duplication of effort, over-skilled personnel performing tasks).
- Major IT investments – such as case management – have not been implemented in tandem with process re-engineering – this means that the full benefits of the IT investment have not been realised.
- Innovation projects such as re-engineering can be difficult to resource as key processes will require cross-functional working to re-engineer and so do not naturally fit into a firm’s departmental and Finance/IT/Marketing/HR resource silos – this creates an ‘inertia barrier’ to tackling them
In our experience, re-engineering can be applied in every facet of legal practice as well as internal administrative processes. In our re-engineering work we adopt a ‘partnering’ role, to provide expertise, guidance and a good dose of provocation to help law firms re-engineer. It is critical that the firm and specifically the relevant Partners and associates take ownership of the re-engineering project – in our experience, if the project is seen to be ‘the consultants’ project’ it is very likely doomed…