9/29/11

Elephant Post: Efficiency?? Apparently Not In Law Firms

image [cc] Eva the Weaver
We have been asking Elephant Post questions for a little over a year now, and we just had a first for this week. No one answered this week's question.

To refresh your memories, the question was "How are you implementing 'efficiency' at your office?" We had hoped that some would jump in and talk about adding structure to how attorneys are assigned matters, or how Legal Project Management programs have helped streamline the process of practicing law, or how changes in management structure have allowed employees to make local decisions rather than running everything through a committee or supervisor. That's what we expected… we really didn't expect to only hear the sounds of crickets chirping in the otherwise silent response.

In a way, getting no response might be telling. As Brian Rogers (aka @theContractsGuy) tweeted about the lack of responses:
lack of elephant posts re efficiency question must indicate a large audience of lawyers--not really an efficient bunch
Perhaps it was just a busy week for the readers of 3 Geeks and no one had the time to come up with a thoughtful answer to the efficiency question. Maybe there are a number of efficient processes that have been implemented across the legal practice spectrum that have truly revolutionized the way we do business, but these processes are kept as trade secrets by each of the firms that have instituted these revolutionary processes. Or, are we simply nibbling at the edges and giving lip service to efficiency because we really don't want/need to be efficient?? I'll let each of you decide which of those three options lead to the lack of response.

In all honesty, there was one answer submitted this week. It was from me, and was put out there to help get the ball rolling. I'll go ahead and post it here. Maybe it will spark an idea or two and you can comment below on some processes that you've done that makes your workplace more efficient.

Also, don't forget to look at next week's Elephant Post question where we ask what trait (out of a list of 24) do you think is the most important in your profession.


Greg Lambert
Library/Records Guy
Getting people out of the process by going to Hosted or Cloud-based systems  

Bringing on an FTE is near impossible in any law firm these days. However, projects get requested (and approved) but we simply cannot put more of a burden on a group of people that are already doing the jobs that used to be assigned to two or three people. Now we look to hosted applications where the support is built into the price and no FTEs are required. Granted there are some drawbacks (we can't simply modify things, and asking for reports or other one-off projects usually costs $$$) However, in the long run, it works and keeps existing staff from bolting out the door because they are being asked to take on one more task.


Next Elephant Post:
What Trait Do You Believe Is The Most Important To Have In Your Profession?
New York Times writer, Paul Rough, wrote an amazing piece a couple weeks ago called "What if the Secret to Success is Failure?" Although it focuses on the educational system in the US, the main theme that runs through the article is there are many factors in what makes someone "successful" and that the person's IQ or how well they do on standardized tests doesn't equate to automatic success. I really encourage you to read this article and think of how the story it tells can be transposed into your place of work.

There are 24 traits that are listed in the article, and they were all taken from Christopher Peterson and Martin E. P. Seligman's 2004 book Character Strengths and Virtues. Take a look at these 24 traits and think of which one you think is the most important to have in your profession and let us know why that is.
Zest: approaching life with excitement and energy; feeling alive and activated
Grit: finishing what one starts; completing something despite obstacles; a combination of persistence and resilience.
Self-control: regulating what one feels and does; being self-disciplined
Social intelligence: being aware of motives and feelings of other people and oneself
Gratitude: being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen
Love: valuing close relationships with others; being close to people
Hope: expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it
Humor: liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing a light side
Creativity: coming up with new and productive ways to think about and do things
Curiosity: taking an interest in experience for its own sake; finding things fascinating
Open-mindedness: examining things from all sides and not jumping to conclusions
Love of learning: mastering new skills and topics on one’s own or in school
Wisdom: being able to provide good advice to others
Bravery: not running from threat, challenge, or pain; speaking up for what’s right
Integrity: speaking the truth and presenting oneself sincerely and genuinely
Kindness: doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them
Citizenship: working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group
Fairness: treating all people the same; giving everyone a fair chance
Leadership: encouraging a group of which one is a valued member to accomplish
Forgiveness: forgiving those who’ve done wrong; accepting people’s shortcomings
Modesty: letting one’s victories speak for themselves; not seeking the spotlights
Prudence/Discretion: being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks
Appreciation of beauty: noticing and appreciating all kinds of beauty and excellence
Spirituality: having beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe


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1 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK, I'll bite.

The greatest efficiency I've seen in my Firm since the start of this "economic downturn" is eliminating non- or low-performers. With them out of the way everything else seems to go so much faster and smoother.

Another efficiency - raising the bar on "business need" in decision-making. "Because I want it" is no longer accepted as a reason for spending.

My Mama was right - a good recession is a teribble thing to waste.

 

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