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The Lean Law Firm Blog

E205: How Transportation Waste Impacts Your Law Firm's Efficiency

case study process improvement productivity Oct 25, 2023
Paper sits wastefully filed into an accordion file folder.

How many times have you handed over paper receipts, signed a check, or printed an email? In law, we’re pretty attached to our paper, and we’re used to the inefficient way we move it around. This is a waste.

Using the DOWNTIME framework, we’ve been discussing the different wastes that affect every law firm and sharing examples from our clients so you can uncover these pesky wastes for yourself. Here, we’re going to share examples of T for Transportation. 

The Tip: Transportation waste is everywhere. Just look for the inefficient movement of things—documents or information—as opposed to people. (That’s motion waste. We’ll get to that in a few tips.)

Your Action Item: This week, take some time to watch how things actually move around in your office. 

  • Are hard copies carried around for sign-off or authorization?
  • Do you use a courier when documents could be sent electronically?
  • Do you submit paper receipts for reimbursement?
  • Are pre-bills printed and circulated between attorneys for review?
  • Do you print and file emails?

Once you start looking, you’ll see transportation waste everywhere. But what can you do about it? Lots! 

Try one of these solutions for Transportation waste:

  • Go digital–use DocuSign or another digital signature program
  • Rethink your processes to reduce the number of authorizations you need
  • Review documents online using PDF mark-up tools
  • Ask clients if they’d prefer electronic copies of bills and other communication (most will!)

For more inspiration, here’s what one of our clients did to eliminate some of their Transportation waste. They call it The Bathroom Check-Signing Policy. 

The problem: every time a check needed a signature, someone wandered around the office looking for a partner to sign it. Partners dreaded the interruption, and support staff hated interrupting them, so checks got left on people’s empty desks and chairs, only to be overlooked or buried under piles of files. 

Their solution: they set up a table outside the bathrooms used by partners, laid out some pens, and left the checks there. Partners reviewed them as they passed by and signed the ones they had some responsibility for. It was a creative approach that worked with this firm’s layout and size.  

The result: checks were signed faster, fewer were lost, and no one was interrupted.

Fixing one process at a time will help you resolve the waste in your law firm. To help you get there, we’ve got a free guide for you to evaluate the top 22 Processes You Need in Your Law Firm. You may find that you’re working harder than you have to.



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