Thursday, August 26, 2010

ILTA Day 4--Using Business Process Management to Increase Matter Efficiency

Session Materials

Formal Description:

"Managing individual matters is where firms can realize the biggest efficiency and cost gains. For firms that are serious about efficiency and alternative fee arrangements, this session will discuss the strategic application of principles from the fields of business process management and project management and highlight firms that have put these principles to work. While law schools may not have project management or business process classes, lawyers can still learn from experts in these fields."

For tweets see #info15.

Monroe M. Horn ("Monty")- CIO, Sunstein Kann Murphy & Timbers LLP, Boston IP boutique
Angel Garcia-Manso - Goodwin Procter LLP
Bill Decker - Hubbard One, a Thomson Reuters Business
Toby Brown - Fulbright & Jaworski

Disclosure; Angel is my colleague at Goodwin Procter. I know Monty personally, he's an outstanding tenor! Also, these are my unedited notes (live-blogged).

BPM in an IP Boutique

Monty started. Why BPM? Technology benefits come from integration and automation rather than new "killer apps." They determined it would be best to have apps that exactly met their needs. Most users are suffering from information (email) overload. Very often business processes involve sending and acting on email. Yet users often don't have the information they need to act on when they need it (this sounds like a KM problem to me!).

They chose to automate a client-facing business process, IP docketing. They rolled out in Beta using live data (in parallel). They've applied for a patent and are working with a vendor to commercialize it.

Key elements of successful automation are:

1. Filling in "white space" between application without changing the way people are working.

2. Provide rich user interfaces, especially to attorneys and paralegals. They are not tolerant of things acting clunky and not following Windows protocols. Usually BPM applications don't have to have that level of user interface.

3. Allowing users to organize and prioritize the work and tasks is really important. For instance, break out attorney's work by stage, by whether they are directly responsible or supervising, and so forth. Add "flagging" that people can leverage as they see fit [I'd advocate for tagging by keyword!]

4. Supervisory capacities need to be baked in.

5. Try to give them the information they need when they need it.

Bill Decker

He spent the last five years doing project management at a large law firm and is now at Hubbard One / Thomson Reuters. How can PM techniques assist attorneys with fixed fee arrangements?

Project has four (or five) phases. Project Initiation is for understanding what your goals are. Project planning is the most important piece. Identify (and document) the processes needed to establish the scope and the objectives. Project Execution (lumped in with Project Monitoring), then Project Closure, where you show that you did what you set out to do.

Communication is the key success factor. Poor communication is the primary reason why projects fail.

Traditional projects are similar to a legal matter in that they have definite ends and goals.

Attorneys do not accept that a legal engagement is unsuccessful if not completed within a reasonable time and under budget. Their goal is to win.

Project management and continual planning will prevent clients from being surprised by the last bill.

With AFAs you need to build models based on previous experience. Bill mentions that ABA codes as a possible source for matter planning. He notes that "CodeSense" has loaded the ABA codes into SharePoint to track status against different parts of the tasks.

AFAs at Fullbright & Jaworski

Toby Brown of Three Geeks and a Law is the alternative fee person at Fullbright & Jaworski.

He described the approval process for AFAs at his firm.

The first step is a "pre-approval" processes where partners seek information and have a dialog. Partners want to know what form of fee to use and how much to charge. Every RFP crosses his desk, needing AFA content.

The second step is the lawyer's preparation of an actual AFA proposal. They seek information about the client (e.g., financial information), the type of arrangements (looking at type, amount, metrics, and probabilities), and value (allowing lawyers to provide more context).

The third step is AFA analysis. Evaluating the margin of a particular billing partner is key. Partners will run the same type of margins. He will compare similar proposals. Toby is using Redwood analytics. Small changes in the leverage can have large variations in margin.

Fourth, a small group of partners approve the AFA. They talk with Toby about the matter.

Fifth, it gets set up as an AFA matter.

Sixth, the budget gets entered into a tracking system. There still needs to be a system for tracking progress against budget (?).

Seventh, monitor budget against performance. Send monthly and quarterly variance reports.

Eighth, report back on closed matters to the AFA system.

Budgeting and other Projects at Goodwin Procter

Angel counted nine sessions at ILTA addressing Alternative Financial Arrangements (AFAs.) Goodwin decided that doing budgeting would be an important step in addressing AFAs. They asked practice managers to talk to partners and break work they do in phases and tasks. They continue reviewing phases and tasks and improving the 70 matter templates.

The Goodwin budgeting system integrates with Aderant and the time-entry system. Goodwin will also be integrating with SharePoint and Goodwin's Matter Pages system.

(Disclosure: I have been a part of the AFA work at Goodwin).

The iStaff project is another example. Goodwin staffing managers help find partners the best associate for a given project. Each staffing manager was dealing with 40-60 associates and had to learn their experience and professional development needs, and wanted to match that with the jobs. They automated the collection of information from associates about their needs and busyness. It pulls in information from Expert, the HR systems, partners' input about what they need, and associate workload reports. The new system increased compliance (associate reports) 70%.

Another example is the IP Practice System. They interviewed attorneys over 10 months to identify process mapping. They identified inconsistent operations across offices. They built a couple of tools that helped people delegate work. They integrated all the different sources of information. It pulled in matter-centric iManage folders where they had scanned and filed the paper records. The case information can be forwarded to other attorneys. It also links to the PTO file and the Matter Pages system.

Partners reported that what used to take them 10 minutes now takes 10 seconds.


How did they get buy-in? Monty said they have a small shop; the firm decided to change the way it worked; and the paralegals liked it because they could prove they had provided the file(s).

Angel said that adoption depends on the sponsors. Demand for iStaff came from the directors in the firm and was heavily promoted by the staffing managers.

No comments: