This article gets straight to the point about agile for legal practitioners–what it is, why it is important, and how you can take advantage of these techniques immediately.
Agile methodologies are a set of behaviors you and your team could to apply in daily work to be more productive. Almost every type of legal work requires some level of process. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but you already repeat the same tasks over and over when the tasks you complete are similar. Agile helps your processes stay consistent to get things done faster, better, and with continuous improvement.
Defining Your Process
When defining your process, go from the macro to the micro. Start thinking about the overall status of all your matters. You certainly already saw the classic “to-do / doing / done” board, right? Okay, that’s not the level of statuses I’m talking about. You need to put a little more thinking on the “doing” phase.
When looking at a phase carefully, you may notice several times when a legal work is waiting for other people to perform and action to move it forward. It could also be pending approvals or waiting for drafts, the revision, and so on. You might also notice tasks that need to be performed in a specific order while others can be executed simultaneously.
As I said before, you can start defining your process by simply trying to find the most obvious roadblocks you face that postpone your cases in a status. What you find lets you know what you should start documenting in your processes’ phases.
Documenting your Process
When you find roadblocks, you may want to document them so that you can visualize, check, repeat, and share the workflow with your team members.
You can document these issues by using another part of the methodology, known as kanban boards. You might have seen an office wall full of colorful sticky notes organized into columns, right? It may have been a kanban board.
The anatomy of a legal kanban board
Legal kanban boards usually have columns representing the phases your matters pass through during the entire cycle, from clients’ intakes to final delivery and billing. It’s your whole “doing” phase, divided by status.
Inside each column, you have the matters you’re dealing with (the sticky notes), spread between different statuses within the board.
On your sticky notes, you’ll want to have handy information about the case, contract, transaction, or whatever type of work you’re doing.
Can you imagine putting everything you need to know about a matter into a 3×3 in. piece of paper? That’s why today’s agile practitioners rely on online tools like Legalboards.
With a digital tool for your kanban boards, you can have quick access to your case details, due dates, tasks, invoices, etc.
Are you ready for more?
This is an introductory article, though I’d love to talk more about concepts like task chain automation, multi-boards interoperability, and more. Please share your thoughts on how you think legal kanban boards and agile methodologies can boost your firm’s productivity.