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Calling Timeout as a Legal Best Practice

Leading Japanese manufacturers are famous for letting any worker stop the assembly to correct a quality problem. Can lawyers say the same?  I’ve been in automotive assembly plants and know that emergency stop buttons are critical safety features. It can also be a critical q

New Position Pioneers Law Firm Best Practices

It looks like one large law firm finally sees business benefit in developing best practices.  Heller Ehrman announced in September that Suzanne Hawkins joined the firm as Chief of Practice Excellence. She “will be responsible for developing best practices to ensure that the

KM Best Practices

Knowledge management may be all about “not re-inventing the wheel.” Just how far can lawyers go in re-using know-how? Can we define “best practices?”  The consensus answer is “no.” I recently wrote KM Best Practices (, May 29, 2007). Th

Do We Need Lawyer Proceduralists?

General counsel grumbling about outside counsel bills and services is mild compared to the real pressures doctors face: insurers, employers, and malpractice risks. These pressures cause medical practice to change far faster than law practice. The Wall Street Journal today reports on a

Can Law Firms Learn from Other Markets?

Many businesses borrow best practices from other industries. Do law firms do so?  Rarely in my experience, and that’s too bad. That point was hammered home reading A Hospital Races To Learn Lessons Of Ferrari Pit Stop (Wall Street Journal, 11/14/06, p. A1), which explains w

R&D as a Competitive Differentiator

Few law firms invest in research and development. But doing so could pay big dividends.  Lawyers spend time on billable work, client development, firm administration, and keeping up on legal developments. Is R&D even on the list? The focus of R&D should be driven by str

Collaboration Re-Considered

Stretch your memory. Think back to the early days of e-mail. Did you resist? Fess up. Are we all at risk for resisting the next wave?  Around 1995 I wrote an article arguing that lawyers should use e-mail. Seems quaint, but trust me, it was necessary. I noted that phone calls and

Practice and Process Improvement – Part II

Last November I suggested that in law firms, it was not obvious who should be responsible for practice and process improvement. A new answer may be emerging. Hildebrandt consultant Susan Raridon Lambreth wrote an excellent article, How Do Practice Leaders Get Their Jobs Done and Still

The Way Lawyers Work

Do lawyers think carefully enough about how they practice law?  I think not. Relatively few lawyers seem to analyze how they practice. How many carefully consider alternatives or consciously seek best practices? Do others share my impression that relatively few lawyers seem to ap

Practice and Process Improvement in Law Firms

US corporations invest a lot in process improvements. And now law firms show signs of doing the same. Two recent ILTA white paper excellent articles (Don’t Support the Practice of Law – Support the Business of Practicing Law and The Value Proposition of the Business Analys