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Six Things Legal Professionals Could Care [More/Less] About

Reflections on value, purple people, (right)sourcing, change management, checklists, and Artificial Big Block Data Machines.

The year comes to a close. Legal professionals in law firms and departments sprint to complete 2016, securing (or deferring) payments, negotiating last minute discounts, finalizing budgets, socializing strategies for the new year, and, hopefully, taking quality time with family. Rather than wait for January to consider resolutions, I share the following thoughts for the new year.

(1) The Landscape: what to consider regularly as we partner with internal/external clients, complete existing projects, and take on new projects.

VALUE: How good am I at value pricing? What is the value of this project/matter to me and my organization? What is the right outcome for me, the desired result for my client? Deliver value and communicate regularly the value delivered.

  • What is the right price (hint: see value above)?
  • What are my priorities?
  • Am I satisfied with the results/communication/service?
  • What is my department/company/program/project strategy?
  • What are my timelines?

(2) The People: what we might consider as we hire, mentor and develop talent? How can we grow through and with our network?

DIVERSITY: What is the diversity of my team, company, and service providers? Have I considered the pledge to implement ABA Resolution 113?

  • How can I support access to justice?
  • How can I enhance collaboration with team members, business partners, clients, and fellow professionals?
  • Have I considered the perspectives of various generations?
  • Who are the innovators in my network?
  • Will legal operations professionals continue to drive change?
  • Will I discover purple people as I hire and develop talent?

(3) The Ecosystem: how have staffing options evolved? Who are the right business partners to help us deliver results? How could work be (re)allocated?

(RIGHT)SOURCING: How can law firms and departments continue to drive efficiency by allocating work to the resources with the right skills and at the right price to deliver the desired outcome?

  • How far will convergence consolidate work to a smaller number of firms and impact outside counsel spend?
  • What work will be insourced in the coming year?
  • How much work will continue to flow to legal process outsource providers?
  • What legal startups will evolve and what segments of the profession will they disrupt?
  • What work will flow to shared service centers and in what locations?

(4) The Managements: ”Management helps you to produce products and services as you have promised, of consistent quality, on budget, day after day, week after week.”

CHANGE MANAGEMENT: Successful system, process and people initiatives rely on effective change management strategies. Are my leaders driving change?

  • Does my data deliver strategically meaningful insights about our team and business?
  • Am I sharing systematically my knowledge and best practices to help us manage our legal team and client expectations?
  • How do I approve and manage matters?
  • Am I an effective (legal) project manager?
  • Is my project portfolio aligned with our current strategic objectives?
  • What am I doing today to manage talent?

(5) The Tools: The content and systems aligned with realistic business processes that help us deliver cost effective legal advice and results.

CHECKLISTS: Do we maintain checklists to standardize and systematize certain aspects of our practice?

  • Do I have an easy, effective way to create and manage project/matter budgets?
  • Do I use eBilling software that auto-classifies time entries and automates key elements of applicable billing guidelines?
  • Do I have written engagement letters defining the scope, cost and details of each project/matter?
  • Am I managing projects, matters and teams in accordance with clearly understood outside counsel guidelines?
  • Do I use process maps to understand and enhance service delivery?

(6) The Artificial Big Block Data Machines: A fusion of Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Machine Learning, and Data Analytics given these terms are somewhat opaque to a practitioner delivering legal service on a day-to-day basis.

DATA: Are we deliberate in the way we architect, capture and analyze our data? Have we identified the right metrics to understand our business and drive results?

  • How can Artificial Intelligence can change my practice?
  • Do I need to understand blockchain smart contracts?
  • Is it time to explore contract analysis software to change the resources devoted to reviewing/drafting/managing contracts?
  • Can I enhance service delivery by embedding my legal know-how in an expert system?
  • Can I use machines to learn more from the work I have done?

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn on December 15, 2016. Interested readers are invited to (1) use a link below to share this article on LinkedIn, Facebook, Titter, etc. and/or (2) visit the article on LinkedIn to share the article or their comments.

©2016 Peter Krakaur

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