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Gimbal's Tip of the Week

The Lean Law Firm Blog

E200: Do you know how to spot the waste in your law practice?

process improvement productivity Sep 20, 2023
woman's hand holding waste products

Feeling sluggish about the way things are being done at your firm? Are tasks taking too long? Do they seem more complicated than necessary? It’s likely that there’s waste in your work that can be eliminated! 

The tip: Use DOWNTIME to help you see the waste in your legal, business, and administrative processes. 

Being lean is all about finding ways to add more value and eliminate the waste in your everyday practice. But waste can be hard to see. Often, it’s hiding in plain sight as “just the way you’ve always done things.” The DOWNTIME framework will help you spot the 8 most common types of waste in a law practice.

  1. Defects: Mistakes or oversights on documents or tasks.
  2. Overproduction: Doing more of something or doing something earlier or faster than required.
  3. Waiting: Any time when people, equipment, documentation, or information are idle.
  4. Non-utilized talent: Failing to recognize or take advantage of the potential of available juniors, paralegals, and assistants.
  5. Transportation: Unnecessary movements of documents or materials.
  6. Inventory: Excess work in progress, documents awaiting signature, unanswered e-mails and voicemails, or oversupply of materials in the office.
  7. Motion: Any unnecessary physical displacement of people, equipment, or information; for example, extra steps to access supplies or research materials.
  8. Extra processing: Any time you do more than what is required to satisfy the needs and demands of your client.

No matter how good a lawyer you are, I’m sure you could look at your practice right now and identify some waste: rewriting documentation, correcting errors, looking for a misplaced file, waiting for a response from a colleague, client, or business unit. Waste abounds. It costs you and your business money, annoys your clients, and interferes with your workflow. 

Once you’ve pinpointed the wastes and their underlying causes, you can design your processes to minimize or even eliminate them.

Your Action Item: Ask yourself: is there a task you do regularly that takes too long or just seems harder than it needs to be? If so, you’ve found a waste!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll give you tips for identifying each kind of waste in your organization. Plus, be inspired to take action as we’ll share real-life examples from our clients who have successfully eliminated that waste.

P.S. If you're committed to improving your productivity, give us a call. We offer a free strategy session to get you started. 

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