Few would dispute that lawyers work hard and for hours that many other professionals would consider impossible. However, it may be worthwhile taking a moment to step back and look at how processes can be transformed at an organisational level to improve an individual’s productivity quotient.
‘Are pilots running airlines?’ asks Lourdes Slater, the CEO of Karta Legal, a consultancy firm with a mission to improve legal processes. “Lawyers are skilled at their art but may not possess the business acumen or time to transform their practices”, she says.
According to Lourdes, the mission is simple – to innovate legal practice in a three-step process; people, process and then technology. Using design thinking and business process improvement tools such as Lean Six Sigma and Agile Legal Project Management, she aims to teach proverbial old dogs new tricks. These are her three key insights:
Identify Your Challenges
The first step is to determine the root cause of past change resistance. ‘(Organisations) need to identify the nature of the barrier to innovation,’ Lourdes says. She continues, “We collaborate with our clients to determine if the barrier is a lack of will — not being sold on the ‘why’ — or not knowing the ‘way’ — lacking the know-how to get there.” According to Lourdes, these are different challenges which require different types of attention.
Shift From Warrior to Business Mentality
Secondly, according to Lourdes, lawyers may require a shift in mentality from perfectionism to efficiency. “Lawyers traditionally have been rewarded for perfection. The ‘leave no stone unturned’ approach is taught early and forcefully. Mistakes are frowned upon, a missed legal authority in a brief is not easily forgiven, and the consequences can be serious.” Lourdes observes.
She continues, “We are never taught efficiency, but the opposite. Early on with the Socratic method in law school, what we are taught are the virtues of resiliency and over preparation. Generally speaking, lawyers don’t see themselves as business people but as warriors.” Of course, the idea is not to completely forego accuracy for efficiency. Rather what is required is a willingness to shift one’s mentality so that lawyers can be effectively aided by time-saving technologies and processes.
A Third-Party Facilitator May Be a Perfect Reality Check
According to Lourdes, “For innovation to take hold in your organization, we need to make the business case loud and clear and present the innovative behavior as rewarding.” She explains, “There are many ways we can accomplish this depending on the type of innovation and organization implementing it. In every instance, however, you have to start at the top of the chain. Without ‘the will’ of the owners and stakeholders, your initiative will fail.”
She recommends, “If you are neither the owner or the stakeholder, but are tasked with change management at your organization, because the owner/stakeholder has heard this is the ‘thing to do,’ not because they are truly ‘willing’ to change, seek outside help to facilitate the engagement and commitment of the key players, owners or stakeholders of your organization.” According to Lourdes, a facilitator with the experience and ability to communicate the reason for the “will” and the path for the “way” to your owners and stakeholders may be the key to success.
As much as pilots don’t run airlines, they also spend very little of their time mechanically flying the plane to its destination. Likewise, the digital revolution will revolutionise the legal industry and lawyers cannot afford to run firms or departments the same way as in the past. Lourdes’ mission is to help firms embrace digital processes and learn how it can be effectively implemented into the legal industry.
We work with some of the largest firms in the UK who are seeking to be pioneers of the digital legal revolution. Get in touch with us and see how we can help you join a firm that is working for the future.