March 31, 2017

Lean Six Sigma at Your Firm: Defects

by Debbie Foster, Affinity Consulting Group, LLC

In the previous article, we introduced the concept of leveraging Lean Six Sigma in your law firm. In a nutshell, that means ‘Doing things right, and doing the right things.’

Eliminating waste is a big part of doing the right things. Waste is defined as anything that does not add value to the client, and can be identified by thinking through these points: Is the client willing to pay for it, is it done right the first time and is it something that changes the client situation.

The first waste we want to cover is Defects, which show up in a variety of ways in your law firm. An easy way to think about defects is as mistakes, like having the wrong party listed on a contract or the style of a case, notices not sent or sent to the wrong people, missed deadlines, drafting and re-drafting documents time after time – not to build upon the legal argument – but to fix errors. Your clients do not want to pay for you to fix mistakes and defects do not add value for your client.

The first step in eliminating defects is to identify the defects, and then to understand why they are happening. Often times, the solutions are related to the automation of documents or processes that surround the entry of data into your system. When trying to solve your defects, start with your process: how you get your work done. Then, move to the people piece – are the people following the process. And then, explore the technology and find the best way for the technology to support the process. Next up: Overproduction.