We've asked the thought leaders and experts who will be speaking at Lexpo'18, legal innovation event:'What is the most important development in their area of expertise and how will it affect the upcoming years?'; 'What will they be talking about at Lexpo'18'; 'What they need to do or read to learn more about their area of expertise and if there is something else they would share?'
Kim, 'If you should pick one - what, in your opinion, is the most important development in your area of expertise over the past 5 years in the Legal Market, and how will it affect the upcoming years?'
In my experience sitting table-side in countless sales meeting with clients, I’ve seen their expectations change drastically over the last decade. Legal expertise has become table stakes and a law firm’s ticket for entry. As law departments are under more pressure for cost saving, improved financial predictability and deeper alignment with the business objectives, those pressures have transcended to the law firms that service them. Clients expect firms to provide deeper insights into HOW the legal work will be provided and define the value to the client for those services. These changing mandates have required law firms to invest in and leverage business professionals who can broaden and deepen the value of the legal services provided. These professionals consist of client-facing legal project managers, pricing specialists, data analysts, technologists, efficiency experts and so on — a/k/a “nonlawyers” (a term despised by some and embraced by others) or “non-practicing lawyers." These roles have gained traction over the past five years with the rise of the emerging legal ops roles in law departments who focus on many of these core disciplines and there is a synergy we have observed between the law firm’s business professionals in these roles and the legal ops members. This momentum will continue and pick up pace as those organizations that invest in the “business of law” by increasing skills, talent and expertise in these area will have a significant competitive advantage.
'what will you be talking about at Lexpo'18'
I am excited to share Seyfarth’s journey as a pioneer in legal project management and lean six sigma. Being the first one out of the gate has its challenges and I’ll share those hurdles as well as the wins. After a decade, we have learned much and can safely say that our program is not a “fad” but one that created a true cultural transformation, strongly supported and encouraged by clients. We believe that the core tenets of these two disciplines are applicable not only in BigLaw but in all organizations regardless of size or focus. I’ll share some examples of where our consulting arm has helped apply tools and techniques to optimize performance of law departments, legal aid organizations and investment in law students who have tested their learnings out in five-person size firms. It’s been a fascinating experience and we believe in sharing with other legal service providers for the benefit of clients.
When the legal professionals want to learn more about your area of expertise or the developments in this expertise, what do they need to do or read?
The legal market is flooded with information about legal project management so a quick internet search will result in a wealth of valuable information. More and more seasoned experts are publishing materials sharing their lessons learned. At Seyfarth, our LPMs are Project Management Professionals (“PMPs”) through the Project Management Institute. This organization also has a wealth of information about project management that is applicable in every vertical for which LPMs can learn and apply these core tenets to the delivery of legal services. With regard to lean six sigma, there are limited resources specific to legal. However, investing in LSS and obtaining at least a yellow belt level certification can be extremely valuable in helping to understand the applicability of process improvement to legal service delivery. Most importantly, after investing in these areas, TRY IT! Roll up your sleeves and use your strongest change management skills to test LPM and Lean out. Practice makes perfect.
'Thank you! Is there something else or an insight that you would share with our readers
While the technical skills in these referenced roles is key and valuable, they fall short without the soft skills required to successfully execute in this field. The ability to influence and be persuasive, as you introduce new disciplines to legal practitioners and suggest different methods and approaches, is absolutely critical. Being an exceptional change agent will go far and knowing how to navigate resistance to change will aid in your success. It takes confidence and humility to drive change along with empathy for those you are trying to “move.” It’s not all just about shiny tech, charts or graphs, it’s about connecting and understanding people, meeting them where they are, so that you have the best chance of helping them to move forward. For those that master this challenge, the rewards will be immense.
About Kim Craig
Optimism, adaptability, and persistence. These are the traits that define Kim Craig's career. In the 35 years since Kim first joined Seyfarth Shaw, the legal industry around her has changed drastically and she has embraced that change. A longtime advocate for systemic improvements to the firm's operations, Kim was part of the firm's initial exploration of Lean Six Sigma in 2005.
Today, Kim is Managing Director of Lean Solutions for SeyfarthLean Consulting. In the intervening years, hers has been the mission of changing hearts and minds. Working side by side with Seyfarth legal teams to deliver greater value and better client experiences, Kim has pioneered the integration of legal project management and legal process improvement into the practice of law. Along the way, she has been a guide, instigator, and co-conspirator to many a lawyer looking for a better way.
Kim leads SLC’s Client Services practice, comprised of one of the first and most mature teams of client-facing legal project managers and process improvement consultants. With emphasis on service model innovation and delivery optimization, Kim’s focus is on driving continuing advances in how legal teams work, for enhanced value, better outcomes, and greater client experiences.
Kim is a Certified Project Management Professional, Lean Six Sigma Blackbelt and Certified Scrum Master.
The following Thought Leaders and Expert (all speaking at Lexpo'18) will be answering the same questions in this Series
Oliver N Oram