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Insights and Analysis from Edge International, the Leading Global Consultancy to the Legal Profession

August, 2012   
Beyond Legal Process Management: How LPM plus LPI Can Unleash Transformation

If combined and fully aligned with Legal Process Improvement,  the potential of LPM becomes exponentially bigger

By Chris Bull 


Many law firms and in-house legal departments, notably in the US market, seeking to respond positively to rising client calls for alternative fee arrangements and pricing transparency, have looked to apply Legal Project Management (LPM) tools to the matters they run.


LPM has the potential to unify large tracts of the market around better managed matters. By itself it is becoming a powerful force for both efficiency and quality improvement within those organisations adopting it seriously. However, if combined and fully aligned with Legal Process Improvement - the continuous review and redesign of the way lawyers work - the potential becomes exponentially bigger. LPM could prove to be a 'phase one' gateway or bridge - moving lawyers from the traditional, established approach to managing and pricing legal work using an efficiency and process focused approach.


As the market shifts further in the direction of fixed, capped, value-based and other forms of alternative fee arrangements, the requirement to redesign the way legal services are delivered, from the ground up, for efficiency will grow. Right now, many adopters of LPM, even those rightly lauded as pioneers, have little desire or intention at this point to become "process focused". The exhaustive effort many of them have put into building consensus amongst their lawyer community to begin LPM has not been made only to throw it away on an rapid lurch in the direction of a process organisation.


By following with a carefully managed LPI initiative, staying true to the philosophy and communication standards adopted in the LPM phase, a genuinely transformative result can be realised. Creating an over-arching programme combining LPM and LPI is not going to happen overnight. However, there are a number of smaller scale ways in which an existing LPM initiative inside an organisation can develop into process improvement:


  1. Estimating and Pricing: The emphasis on planned and transparent pricing in the LPM programme prompts firms to ask "now we understand the economics of this work, how are we going to make it viable without alienating the client?"
  2. Matter Management Information: The implementation of LPM will identify 'hotspots' where some types of matters or parts/phases of matters are consistently unprofitable or inefficient: these form a natural focus of attention for process improvement.
  3. Engaging the client: The engagement of clients in LPM programmes can develop into more sustained partnering; both parties can benefit from the exploration of true 'end-to-end' process efficiencies.
  4. Work breakdown structures: Benchmarking likely duration of activities and building a breakdown structure is core to LPM. This is an ideal introduction to process mapping and then process improvement.
  5. Standardised debriefing: Undertaking formal project/matter evaluation, including client feedback, will seed future process improvement projects.

 Contact the author, Chris Bull 



Tying Cultural Assessment to Strategic Planning: 10 Practical Applications of Your Firm's Cultural Profile


The Edge Cultural Assessment provides a concrete foundation for aligning a firm's internal stakeholders and supporting its strategic positioning in the marketplace.


By Douglas B. Richardson, JD, MA, CMC  



Culture matters. Even as they address financial and operational performance factors, these days firm leaders must take a hard look at human performance factors - the various forces that shape their lawyers' level of trust and commitment, willingness to collaborate, and ability to cope with sweeping change. Culture is joined with morale at the hip, and morale correlates directly with productivity and profitability.


Assessing Your Firm's Culture


The mantra for effective firm management these days is "If it can't be measured, it can't be managed." This means that firms committed to developing and managing productive cultures must first establish a rational and rigorous picture of what their cultures look like now.


A comprehensive cultural assessment can be an invaluable firm leadership tool, providing a very precise picture of the "people dynamics" of an entire firm and/or any of its internal subcultures. Because generic standardized organizational cultural assessment instruments were not designed to grasp the unique dynamics and incentives of law firm life, we developed the Edge Cultural Assessment, a user-friendly online assessment instrument, to take a deep look at four distinct law firm cultural building blocks:

  • Strategic Focus: The degree to which the firm creates and communicates a clear identity, both to its own members and those outside the firm.
  • Governance: The manner in which the firm relates to and manages its people, and the way that its lawyers and staff respond to management.
  • Values: The belief systems that represent the collective aspirations of the members of the firm and also shape their group behavioral norms and individual attitudes.
  • Collegiality: The way people in a law firm relate to each other interpersonally, socially, and functionally.

These four broad areas are divided into 30 distinct scales,* each measuring a particular cultural dimension or performance factor. Our assessment summary report integrates these scales into a coherent overall picture of a firm's unique cultural strengths, challenges, and operational face. This provides a concrete foundation both for aligning the firm's various internal stakeholders and for supporting its strategic positioning in the marketplace.


Firms of differing sizes and stripes have successfully used the Edge Cultural Assessment as a practical, multi-purpose planning and decision-making tool for pursuing at least 10 distinct strategic objectives:

  1. Helping new leadership to shape strategic priorities and identify potential minefields.
  2. Evaluating the "cultural fit" component in any potential merger or acquisition.
  3. Similarly, assessing the "fit" between the firm and potential lateral partners or hires, as well as facilitating their integration after they have joined the firm.
  4. Fashioning approaches to compensation desirable and acceptable to all stakeholders.
  5. Gauging the firm's readiness for change and the likelihood that its members will buy into new initiatives, directions or structures.
  6. Identifying factors that either build or erode morale, loyalty, commitment, retention/attrition and collective sense of identity, particularly during periods of uncertainty or change.
  7. Recognizing hotspots of discord or subcultures whose values deviate from those of the firm as a whole.
  8. Developing succession, professional development or incentive programs that will support retention, commitment and morale.
  9. "Branding" the firm's unique strengths and characteristics to clients.
  10. Comparing the firm's dynamics, relationships, operations, norms and values with those of its competitors.

* For more information about these 30 sub-scales, as well as administration and feedback of the Edge Cultural Assessment, contact the author, Douglas B. Richardson. 


Structuring Business Development Metrics for Optimum Results


The most powerful metric is the contrast between the current and historic performance of an individual.

By Gerry Riskin



Clients often ask us to help specific individual lawyers to enhance their revenues and their rates of client attraction and retention.


It became clear to me long ago that unless some sort of meaningful metrics were put in place, assessing the return on investment to the law firm for such assistance would be couched in anecdotal evidence only.


There is a great temptation to set objectives in terms of billable hours, receipts, numbers of clients attracted, overall billings, supervised billings, and on and on... but these are only part of the story.


The most powerful metric is the contrast between the current and historic performance of an individual.


To illustrate, if a lawyer being assisted can produce in half a year what he or she produced in the entire previous year, then it is clear to the firm and the individual lawyer that there is a return on investment and a strong benefit to continuing with the assistance.  (This is not as rare a phenomenon as you might guess... in fact, performance can be dramatically enhanced for most lawyers with customized and intense assistance.)


Here are some specific suggestions -


Track monthly:

  • the number of files originated that month
  • hours billed
  • overall revenue produced
  • revenue produced by others on originated matters

Also monthly, compare all items being tracked to an annual goal for each category, and indicate each month whether the assisted lawyer is ahead or behind objectives.


Finally - and of equal if not more importance - contrast the current with the historic year-to-date performance of the individual. This will allow you to get a handle on the delta, or rate of change. 


Both the firm and the individual need a dashboard. Performance against budget is vital to the planning of the firm. Change in performance is critical to measuring the return on investment for assisting an individual.


In future articles and blog posts, I will touch on how you select the individuals you should help, and the benefits that your firm and those individuals might expect from such assistance.



 Contact the author, Gerry Riskin  

Archived Edge International Communiqués 
In This Issue
Beyond Legal Process Management: How LPM plus LPI Can Unleash Transformation
Tying Cultural Assessment to Strategic Planning: 10 Practical Applications
Structuring Business Development Metrics for Optimum Results

  Gerry Riskin

Gerry Riskin 



Ed Wesemann

Jordan Furlong 


Pam Woldow
Doug Richardson 

John Plank 

 John Plank








New York,

Ft. Lauderdale, 

Mike White
Atlanta, GA

Of Counsel 

Legal League Consulting, LLC  
Dehli and Mumbai,

At The Podium: Upcoming Appearances by Edge Partners    



Jordan Furlong August 05 

Keynote Address and Workshops

Strategic Solutions for Solo & Small Firms Conference

Minnesota CLE,

Duluth MN   


Jordan Furlong August 26
Presentation and Panel Moderation
ILTA 2012 Annual Conference
Washington DC 


Jordan Furlong October 11
Keynote Address
Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System
Denver CO 


Jordan Furlong Nov 02
Keynote Address
Oregon State Bar House of Delegates Annual Meeting
Portland OR





Edge Blogs

Jordan Furlong's  



Ed Wesemann's: Creating Dominance


Pam Woldow's At The Intersection


Gerry Riskin's Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices

Nick Jarrett-Kerr's NJK

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