Here are six strategies for improving collaboration and efficiency within a firm: (1) introducing profitability of matters rather than realization rate as the financial metric for evaluating partners, (2) apply methods to overcome lawyer resistance to organizing work product for more efficient re-use, (3) institute checklists to guide practitioners, (4) create a search system that adds subject matter and other filters to full-text search to bring the efficiency of on-line shopping sites to law firm work product retrieval, (5) institute a system to identify on a timely basis when a matter has been completed in order to trigger information collection for marketing and fee benchmarking, enable league table submissions, schedule after-action reviews and improve lawyer utilization, and (6) begin conducting after-action reviews.
How a practice management technique called knowledge strategy can help law firm leaders achieve strategic goals – ideas from a former AmLaw 20 senior partner.
“Top 10 Knowledge Strategies for Larger Law Firms,” a 57-page white paper for law firm leaders, is now available from the Knowledge Strategy Interest Group, which I chair, in the Law Practice Division of the American Bar Association. Knowledge strategy focuses on improving efficiency and quality at the practice group level through better collaboration and sharing of what lawyers know about client work, about clients, about markets for their services, and about their firms as businesses. Knowledge strategy also emphasizes involvement by the firm's senior-most leaders, which is the main driver of change in law firms.
There are gaps between what law firm leaders acknowledge they should be doing and what they are actually doing, according to Altman Weil's annual “Law Firms in Transition” survey, released last week. For example, while 96% of respondents believe more price competition and a focus on improved practice efficiency are permanent changes in the law firm environment, only 55% of firms with 250 or more lawyers have significantly changed their strategic approach to efficiency in delivery of legal services. This post comments on improving efficiency in delivery of legal services, then presents a summary of the full survey, which also covers other topics.
Keith Mayfield, the chairman of an AmLaw 100 firm, has just returned to his office from an internal planning meeting with the chairs of the firm's key practice groups. The chair of the intellectual property group expressed frustration that his group had a rich store of resource materials, but had trouble making them available to the group's lawyers. The group has a paralegal to organize the materials, a resources page on the practice group's intranet and access to the firm's enterprise search engine. Still, group members are constantly e‑mailing around asking for good examples of certain documents, insights into certain issues and experience with certain types of transactions and disputes. This triggered the voicing of similar concerns by several other practice group chairs. It was resolved that the problem was sufficiently pervasive within the firm that an initiative needed to be undertaken.