One of the six core foundational principles of the Kanban Method (and Agile and Lean methodology overall) is: Start with what you do now. It's a powerful concept in change management, and it's about understanding the status quo. Start with what you do now might sound simple, but this is a powerful concept that's easy to overlook or want to skip past in the process of improvement work.Why is start with what you do now crucial for creating meaningful and durable change in your law practice? This principle helps you understand your current processes and the people involved in them, recognizing why you are where you are, so you can ... (Keep reading)

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Ep #26: Start with What You Do Now

Today, I'm delighted to introduce you to my friend and collaborator, Melissa Shanahan, founder of Velocity Work and host of The Law Firm Owner Podcast. She teaches her clients a planning and accountability method she calls Monday Map/Friday Wrap. This method highlights some vital parts of the Agile practices of weekly planning and weekly review meetings.We have an in-depth discussion about strategic planning and law-firm efficiency. But we're also diving into the importance of finding the right kind of support to help you navigate the challenges of running a law firm and managing a legal team.Monday Map/Friday Wrap is about creating micro-feedback loops within the context of a larger strategic ... (Keep reading)

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Ep #25: Following Your Law Firm Strategic Plan with Melissa Shanahan

Visualizing your work on a Kanban Board can be a life-changing improvement to your and your team's overall productivity. But adopting the board as a tool and the Kanban method more broadly can be a little uncomfortable at first, especially when you see all of your to-dos laid out in one place. So, how do you stick with change, like using a Kanban Board, when change gets hard?When you're implementing change in your legal practice and the going gets tough, your brain might be tempted to retreat to your old ways of working like keeping notes on a pad or just having thoughts floating around your mind. However, I've got ... (Keep reading)

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Ep #24: Sticking with Change When Change Gets Hard

Many of us in the legal world, especially firm owners, are feeling the effects of the growing shortage of lawyers. The lawyer shortage is a complex issue with multiple factors at play, but the impacts are becoming apparent everywhere, from the public defender crisis to the civil access to justice gap, to the fierce competition for hiring and retaining mid-career associates. But what are the roots of this lawyer shortage?The lawyer shortage might feel like a sudden crunch. However, the roots of the lawyer shortage lie in some long-term shifts in the demographics of our profession, the economics of law practice and legal education, the regulation of the legal profession, ... (Keep reading)

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Ep #23: Roots of the Lawyer Shortage

This episode is a response to a listener question, asking for more information and examples around how to write effective policies for your law practice. I've spoken before about the importance of making policies explicit. But what does it mean to draft an effective policy in your law firm?When writing policies and procedures, you need to strike the right balance between engaging your team and helping them truly understand the reason behind the policy, while also giving them clear steps and directions about what they need to do to make sure the goals of the policy are accomplished. I'm sharing a process for doing exactly this on today's show.Tune in ... (Keep reading)

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Ep #22: How to Write Effective Law Firm Policies

One of the features of modern business is that there's tons of pressure to grow, scale, and do more with less. Lawyers and their teams aren't exempt from this expectation. It makes sense to leverage our resources and our impact. However, growth for the sake of growth isn't necessarily the healthiest approach for your business, or for the people in it.It's possible to generate profit and create value in ways that don't require constantly striving for growth and scaling opportunities. One of my clients recently had this realization. Thinking they needed to scale their law practice, they actually discovered there is something more important and impactful for their overall success: ... (Keep reading)

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Ep #21: You Can’t Scale Your Way Out of a Sustainability Problem

In past episodes, I’ve talked in detail about individual practices and how the Kanban method has upleveled them, and today’s show provides living proof. That’s because I’m talking with two clients of mine, Jess Birkin and Megan Heitkamp, of the Birkin Law Office, about the start of their practice and how they’ve transformed their business with systematic improvements.With Jess as the owner and Megan as the firm manager, these two have developed a successful firm that serves small to midsize nonprofits. Listen in as we discuss their early adoption of the Kanban method, including such concepts as minimum viable product, “Really Checks,” and productizing. Together we’ll discuss how these concepts and ... (Keep reading)

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Ep #20: The “Really Check:” Fostering Accountability with Jess Birken & Meghan Heitkamp

Note: This is a re-post of the January 2021 edition of Jess Birken's Hack Your Practice newsletter. I'm republishing it with Jess's permission in June 2024 to coincide with Jess's appearance, along with her wing-woman Meghan Heitkamp, on Episode 20 of the Agile Attorney Podcast. Enjoy!Hi there, lawyer friends. Happy New Year!'Tis the season for goal setting. Even if you're not into the whole new year's resolution thing (I'm not), I'm guessing you've been reflecting on 2020 and gearing up for the year ahead. This year feels sliiiiightly hard to plan for, but it sure feels good to set good intentions, right?I know for me (and a lot of lawyers) ... (Keep reading)

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Guest Post: The “Really?” Check

Over the past two episodes, we've covered two key concepts from the world of product development and entrepreneurship, applying them to help lawyers, law firms, and legal teams better deliver products and services. These were Minimum Viable Products and Jobs To Be Done. Today, I'm introducing you to a third concept that complements both of these ideas: the Fit for Purpose framework.Fit For Purpose is part of both the Lean and Kanban methodology, and at its core, Fit for Purpose is all about finding that Goldilocks solution, where you avoid having an underdeveloped product that fails to deliver, but you also sidestep having an overbuilt product or service that lacks ... (Keep reading)

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Ep #19: Fit for Purpose: Designing Legal Services To Meet Client Needs

Most lawyers think of their intake form as something that they need to send to the client so they can get the information they need to actually do the legal work their client requires. But what if we shifted the perspective and instead asked the question, "What is the job that my client is hiring my intake form to do?"This is the core of the Jobs To Be Done Theory. There are several areas of your practice where you can use this theory, and today's episode is all about how to apply this reframe in perspective to create better products, services, and customer experiences for your law practice.Tune in this ... (Keep reading)

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Ep #18: Understanding “Jobs To Be Done” to Unlock Hidden Client Needs