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Kanban for Lawyers

Kanban for Lawyers

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Kanban for Lawyers

5/5 (1 clasificación)
154 páginas
3 horas
13 dic 2020


The health crisis has put law firms and companies of legal services in need to adapt to a market with financial difficulties, but that needs to continue counting on their services. The solution is not to lower rates but to work more efficiently to transfer savings to the customer. Those who compete on price cannot offer quality because they lose margin to finance essential legal practice's resources.
Kanban is a tool developed in the mid-20th century in Toyota factories to optimize production systems. Later adapted to the software industry, it has helped thousands of companies improve their productivity for more than two decades. Its enormous flexibility and simplicity of use allow it to be applied perfectly in managing a professional law firm, both for individual tasks and workgroups.
This book is the first to share techniques, advice, and application methods of Kanban specifically adapted to the legal world. Instead of copying ideas from a text aimed at computer technicians, this book is designed from the start for legal professionals, with examples based on actual experience and real cases.
After his success with "Task Management with Kanban", a best-seller in the USA in Agile Management, Rafael Morales brings you this management system with his usual direct and friendly style to explain the most complex concepts. If you want to start optimizing your time, do not hesitate to immediately apply these pages' ideas.

13 dic 2020

Sobre el autor

Rafael Morales es formador en gobierno de IT, dirección de proyectos y aplicaciones profesionales de la informática, en áreas como Big Data, ciberseguridad o diagnóstico por imagen. Además, ha publicado numerosos artículos, reportajes y libros sobre estos temas desde mediados de los años 90. Es experto en gestión por procesos y está certificado en distintas competencias técnicas, como administración de sistemas UNIX o auditoría de procesos, cursando en la actualidad Derecho en la UNED.

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Kanban for Lawyers - Rafael Morales

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Being competitive is not throwing prices away

Seeking a solution

Kanban: simple, flexible, fast, and efficient

A book for lawyers, not technophiles

A brief commentary on the software

Chapter 1. Kanban for your personal work

Your first Kanban board

Entry, in progress, finished

The entry column

How to prioritize tasks

The in progress work column

Reduce multitasking to a minimum

How long should the tasks be?

The completion column

Customize the process: classification

Chapter 2. Kanban for legal processes

How to deal with the diversity of procedures

Difference between process and procedure

But then, what is a task?

How to control the quality of the work

Does Agile fit into a law firm?

The Agile Manifesto

An example process

Development of the process

How many boards should I have?

In short...

Chapter 3. Kanban for legal teams

Lawyers do not do projects

The ideal LSM scenario with Kanban

The board is not a management tool

Performance analysis

Process optimization

Where do I note the hours spent on each task?

Kanban for legal projects

Kanban in action

Limiting WIP

Management of multiple projects

In short...

Chapter 4. Advanced techniques

Performance Metrics

Example: Profitability calculation

Continuous improvement

Motivation and improvement policies

Types of service

Activity log

In short...


Recommended Readings

Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change

Kanban in Action

Gestión de Tareas con Kanban



Other works by the author

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It seems that we have not stopped suffering one crisis after another in recent years. The late 1990s saw the dot-com bubble, a time when the expectations created by technology companies burst when they were unable to meet them. The Enron and Worldcom bankruptcies were colossal, and companies like Digex, one of the first Internet operators, went from trading at $184 per share to liquidating at $1 per share in a few months.

Around 2008, there was a terrible economic recession due to the real estate bubble, which flooded the financial market with worthless assets (mortgages granted to people who could not pay them). This caused the collapse of investment banks as large as Lehman Brothers, Bear Sterns, or Merry Lynch, which had to be liquidated at a discount or rescued in a humiliating way.

And we are going to close the second decade of the century with a health crisis that has swept the planet completely, forcing the closure of entire countries and sectors of activity. Bankruptcies are counted in thousands, the consequences are estimated to last more than a decade, and a strong recovery is not expected until 2024. And what does all this have to do with the legal profession?

Being competitive is not throwing prices away

All these crises have put additional pressure on our clients. Companies face more uncertain, tougher, and competitive markets than those of the late 20th century. Individuals are no longer assured of keeping their jobs for life or even a few years, so everyone cuts corners and tightens their belts. One of the first expenses to cut is defense and legal advice. People only consult a lawyer when the sky falls in, the house burns down, gets a divorce, is injured in an accident, or has to collect an inheritance. The fear of legal costs makes them not come to the office to consult in a preventive way how to write a contract, but they do it as they can and only approach you when that contract explodes in their hands. In other words, you become a firefighter who has to extinguish fires, with the responsibility of solving insurmountable problems that could have been avoided if your customers were not frightened of what you are going to charge them.

And the same happens to companies, which have gone from considering it a symbol of prestige to have extensive legal departments at their disposal, whether internal or external, to label them as a financial liability, penalizing the income statement.

The result is that the era of the thousands and thousands of hours of legal consulting bills of the '80s and '90s is gone and will never return. Whether corporate or individual, clients want more predictable, reliable, and accountable results from their legal departments and lower costs, which requires greater efficiency from the legal profession.

There are two ways to deal with this: making the service cheaper by reducing the rates or being more efficient and competitive. Many boutiques and offices have had to offer discounts of some kind but, although the rates could have been overpriced years ago, there comes a time when the indiscriminate drop begins to affect the resources available to defend your client. Less budget means less capacity for investigation, hiring of experts, continuous training, and attracting talent. In short, less quality of the service you offer.

I have a problem with the second option because it seems that everyone understands the meaning of efficient as doing things the right way, but invariably competitive is interpreted as throwing away prices when it has nothing to do with that. A firm is not competitive when it has lower rates than the office next door, but when it does a more effective job for the same price. In other words, my work hour is more profitable than the one next door, not because it is cheaper, but because I work better.

Seeking a solution

To achieve that efficiency, many lawyers and firms turned to engineering methods, either in their classic version (predictive methods) or a more modern trend called Agile, usually related to the world of computer software. Thus, in recent years a discipline called Legal Project Management has been set, which attempts to establish methods and tools to achieve greater consistency, profitability, and reliability, often based on these engineering methods.

And it has been a good move, bringing some order to a profession that, for centuries, has been the paradigm of anarchy, often confusing the freedom of defense of the lawyer with a plea for eccentricity or, directly, the complete lack of a working method.

This has led to a happy idea model. There are lawyers who see the solution and others who do not, but not an organized system to achieve results and improve efficiency with the experience gained. Many law schools do not include in their curricula courses on organization or management of firms, and we have a significant lack of information regarding this subject.

Furthermore, all of the above is based on a mistaken premise. Lawyers do not manage projects. This may surprise you, especially if your company has some kind of legal project management framework. But you never (or almost never) do projects. What you do is services. And it may seem like a semantic distinction without importance, but the difference is enormous. A project is a one-off, unique work with a fixed time frame for its execution. By setting those limits, you try to manage uncertainty, such as that the cost is not going to skyrocket or that the delivery date is not going to be delayed.

If you have a minimum of legal practice, you know that this is almost impossible. When you take on the defense of litigation, you don't know how long it will last, how much it will cost, or what the outcome will be. The judge may set the hearing date at two months or eight months. Expert witness expenses may be contained or shot up, and you cannot guarantee a sentence's content. Who can guarantee the time and cost of liquidation of a company? Could you compromise in writing the result of a divorce or the time of resolution of a complex inheritance?

I don't know if terms like PMBoK or Scrum sound familiar to you. These are project management methods usually associated with engineering and IT, which many have tried to adapt to the legal world. PMBoK is used to build houses, bridges, or boats, tangible things with a delivery deadline. Scrum is used to develop software applications, millions of lines of code that have to be kept running for years. There are excellent ideas in all these proposals, and many of them can be successfully applied to the legal world. However, they do not face an essential reality of our work: we do not make houses, bridges, software applications, or anything whose picture can be seen in a catalog, and you want a copy within a specific time frame.

As a lawyer, you face absolute uncertainty in your work, and what you provide is a service, not a commitment to build tangible assets. It is IMPOSSIBLE to constrain the development of a legal defense to the Scrum schemes. This methodology organizes the effort in fixed cycles of one month because you never know when you will get a request that you have to answer in 10 days. Besides, you do not guarantee the content of the sentence or the result of a divorce. However, it is the best legal advice for this problem at this time, in these circumstances, with this information, and under the rules of the current law.

Besides, a lawyer's work is not always the same, and does not always follow the same steps. We can distinguish different types of procedures, such as transactions or litigation. A transaction is the execution of an agreement, such as a commercial contract. It is a type of procedure in which the risk is at sight, and the interested parties are within your reach. Litigation is a procedure that resolves a dispute, such as a divorce application. The risk is partly unknown, and some stakeholders, such as the judge, are out of your reach, as well as the development of events.

I am sure that if we go on with this issue, we will recognize five more types, and I may receive so many letters and messages that I will have to take out a

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