Addleshaws to cut costs with process-mapping initiative

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  • We have been process mapping legal services for years at Seyfarth Shaw. We now have 350 maps spanning litigation and transactional areas of practice. While Addleshaws may be one of the earlier entrants to this, they are not the first and not the first to go about this with rigor.

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  • What a load of old rubbish. Delivery of legal services is not rocket science, but neither can it be reduced to a series of formulae. And being an in-house lawyer myself, the thought of squads of inadequately supervised paralegals being entrusted with "Transaction Services" does not inspire confidence in the end product. Perhaps house builders and car manufacturers could use this model - bang out a step-by-step instruction manual and then employ young, partially qualified staff to produce the end product. I'm sure people would be fine with that.

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  • the race to the bottom intensifies ....

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  • @ The Bottom Line - not sure where in the article it says anything about inadequately supervised paralegals providing services but if you're happy as an in-house lawyer paying expensive lawyers for work that needn't be delivered by rocket scientists, that's your call. Wonder if your CFO agrees with you though?

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  • The Bottom Line - i could not agree more. What the client wants and deserves is competent legal advice at cost efficient prices. I struggle to see how traditional law firms who charge their partners out at >£500 p/h and junior staff at >£250 p/h can keep up with the cost driven demands of clients while still delivery excellent legal services. Map all you want, but no transaction is driven by formula. I suspect the smaller firms or dispersed law firms who only employ senior lawyers at rates which largely match junior lawyers at the larger firms will clean up in the long run.

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  • It would appear others don't understand how transactional legal services can be systemised. It has been going on for many years and has proved to be highly successful. This type of service delivery will never fully replace bespoke services but as with most 'products' systemised service delivery is the norm. Car assembly is a fine analogy - 35 years ago the number of cars produced per car worker was around 5 whereas today the best manage 35 or more. The products are cheaper, safer and better in every way. Lawyers and law firms who reject this revolution in service delivery will go the way of the dinosaur. There are no alternatives when faced with rising fixed & variable costs and clients demanding lower prices. As our American colleagues might say; 'get with the programme'.

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  • What might matter more is how a firm achieves this and how they intend to manage process, people & change over the longer term rather than standing still.

    It's very easy to map a process....but those able to utilise process & apply the benefit to clients will be able to retain work and are well placed to win new work.

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  • @The Bottom Line....

    I am not sure Richard Susskind agrees with you....http://www.thelawyer.com/news-and-analysis/latest-news/lawyer-news-daily/-addleshaws-process-maps-the-future-of-law/3006127.article

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  • Anaonymous obviously does not understand process mapping - it is not straightforward, nor is it easy. Getting it right is laborious and requires a very good understanding of several elements the law(s) and practice that applies to the specific problem/issue, how best to meet and manage client expectations and how best to develop an IT platform that facilitates the interaction between client and service provider. It is a consumate skill, much like that required to project manage a major piece of litigation. And just like any engineering skill is not something that can be learned from attending a half day course from some consultant. lawyersa nd law firms who don't acquire and apply these skills are in for a nasty shock - extinction.

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  • From the article it appears that Addleshaws are recognising that they are a professional services business and doing what services businesses in other industries have been doing for years to drive down costs and increase value not just to their own organisation but also to the client recipients of their services. However process improvement is not just about making services cheaper it is about making them more efficient and relevant. Providing home delivered pizzas cheaper than the competition is no good if you deliver them cold. Whilst legal services are not pizzas their effective delivery is not immune to constant improvement in the way that other services have been improved and stripped of unnecessary trappings. Whilst you may personally bemoan the rise of low frills airline services when you are forced to take that business trip the general airline customers have been voting with their feet and their wallets for over a decade. Saying that you can’t reduce services to a formula is missing the point. Everybody in every organisation follows processes. Whether that is simply “ I spend the first half hour in the morning reading my email” to “we systematically log all enquires with our CRM system and ensure a follow up contact within 24 hours”. In order to improve the effectiveness of a process you need to know what the process is in the first place. If you haven’t got a definitive written description of the process you can be sure that there isn’t a common understanding within the organisation employing that process of exactly what that process entails. Value is destroyed by the waste this lack of common understanding entails. Think how difficult that is for clients who are trying to ensure their processes input requirements are being met – and they have many different suppliers of services with which to integrate. The upcoming, indeed upon us now, explosion in electronic information means that clients are going to look at disaggregating the traditional services they obtain from their legal services suppliers to ensure they get the best of breed doing the various elements of the Service Value Chain. No longer are they willing to assume it is all managed better behind the law firm veil. That means the client is going to have to fit all these services together, the prime example being eDiscovery Legal Process Outsourcing. Those law firms who are able to present a well described set of formally defined quality assured processes will be the law firms who will inspire confidence for the new age. Only by having done the work to clarify what their “as is” processes are can they work out what their “to be “ processes should be and convincingly explain how they are going to be able to adapt their existing processes to fit the requirements of individual customers. This work is not easy and indeed by the nature of some of the comments it is clear that some will not be up to the task. Getting the processes mapped properly will determine whether value is maintained and enhanced in the future. Doing a half assed amateur job would be disastrous more by the invisible effect of reduced profits and reducing customers through muddling through as per usual rather than by any big bang failure. Those law firms who embrace process management as a core necessaity will thrive and indeed capture legal process management as a major skill which they are better able to provide to customers than any of the new providers on the block.

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