Legal Process Improvement – A “how to” guide

Since the global financial crisis of 2007 to 2009, law firms have had to continually improve in order to maintain a balance of the following goals:

  • Happy, satisfied clients,
  • Happy, motivated & productive staff, and
  • A profitable, financially-stable firm

This is a delicate balance and focusing on one goal can have unintended consequences for the others. 

For example, to improve the profitability of the firm whilst ensuring that clients remain happy, many firms have inadvertently put more pressure on their staff and partners to work harder and bill more hours.  The impact on staff and partner well-being is well publicised in the legal press and Twitter.  

Other examples can manifest in the ‘over-servicing’ clients or having lower expectations of staff productivity being ‘subsidised’ by sub-optimal and unsustainable dips in firm or practice profitability.

Following this path, law firm leaders only really have one decision to make:

“Which goal are we willing to sacrifice in order to prioritise the others?”

But there is another way…

Firms that have consistent, well-defined and efficient ways of working are able to achieve all three goals simultaneously:

  • Consistent, high-quality processes = a higher proportion of happy, satisfied clients
  • Efficient, waste-free processes = staff and partners working smarter, not harder
  • Repeatable processes = better leverage (of junior staff and technology) and an ability for the firm to grow scalable (i.e. fee income grows faster than costs)

This series of blogs provides practical tips and guidance for getting started with Legal Process Improvement and how to improve the success of such projects.

As you’d expect from someone who has lived and breathed Process Improvement for the best part of nearly two decades, I have a process for improving processes which I share below:

  1. Define scope and objectives
  2. Assess current state
  3. Analyse and benchmark
  4. Develop future state
  5. Implement and manage


Over the many years of delivering Process Improvement projects, I’ve learnt what works and what doesn’t work (sometimes the hard way!).  I’ve distilled down the key tips, techniques and learnings over a series of 5 blog articles.

Check out each of the topics below:

Why not check out the other posts in this series:

Step 1 – Define the objectives and scope of the project

How to Improve Legal Processes: Step 1- Define the objectives and scope of the project

Step 2 – Assess the current state (legal process mapping)

How to Improve Legal Processes: Step 2- Assess Current State (Legal Process Mapping)

Step 3 – Analyse the process

How to Improve Legal Processes: Step 3- Process Analysis

Step 4 – Define the future-state process

How to Improve Legal Processes: Step 4- Defining the Future State

Step 5 – Implement the solution

How to Improve Legal Processes: Step 5- Implementing the Solution

If you’re interested in equipping your teams to get started with one of the key activities in legal process improvement; Process Mapping, then please check out our highly practical, e-Learning product.  It takes less than an hour to complete and by the end of it, your team members (fee earners or support staff) will be better equipped to get started with mapping out how your existing processes operate.  This is a critical first step which can make the difference between success and failure.

Check out our “Process Mapping for Law Firms” eLearning course – just £97 per person for full access.

Click here to get started for free

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