Giving clients what they want.

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Increasing pressure from an informed client base is causing firms to analyze the way they work and how they manage their matters. Firms are asking themselves: "Are we communicating well enough with our clients; are we being responsive to their business needs?" "Are we delivering world-class service on a consistent basis across the firm?" "Are we as efficient as we can be?"

Your corporate clients' general counsels are themselves being challenged. They need to demonstrate effective management of their outside counsel and return on their investment. To that end, they are becoming more strategic and data-driven, with many using formalized metric programs to track costs. Access to this type of information has empowered general counsels to push back on the outside firms they employ. A recent survey of corporate counsel identified three desired areas of improvement: cost reduction, improved budget forecasting and efficient project management. To win and retain work, you must show where you are innovative and how you are responding to meet clients' business requirements.

Clients also want consistency. A recent survey by the BTI Consulting Group found that the top reason clients fire law firms is inconsistency: inconsistency in keeping clients informed, in dealing with unexpected changes, in handling problems and in meeting scope of work. This failure to deliver work in a dependable, reliable manner adds up to less-than-stellar client service.

Efficiency is the third requirement that a firm must address. A firm must deliver high-quality work efficiently. Doing so ultimately results in good service at lesser expense to the client. One way a legal firm can drive costs down and increase efficiency is by using less expensive resources to deliver the services. Not surprisingly, being efficient comes down to a firm implementing systems and processes that ensure the work is delivered in a consistent manner, whether the work is done by Lawyer A or Lawyer B.

Strategies for Delivery

To meet these requirements, legal management professionals are turning to process improvement and matter management, including putting "legal" Lean Six Sigma practices in place, to incorporating overarching matter management technologies.

Legal firms are turning to Lean Six Sigma, a set of techniques and tools for process improvement, as they examine their own processes and practices to smooth them...

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