As we close out 2022, I've now spent over 8 years trying to convince lawyers and other legal professionals to use kanban boards — and the Kanban methodology more broadly — in their law practices. Back when I started, my biggest challenge was getting people to recognize that Kanban was even a thing. Much of my outreach focused on getting people to make a kanban board for the first time. I even made a Vine about it (remember Vine?):Ahh, the satisfying schlup of a sticky note unsticking.These days, the challenge is different. Kanban boards are kinda everywhere — well, in a lot of places at least. Software teams have been using ... (Keep reading)

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Kanban for Lawyers Office Hours

​This is part of my series where I try to help anonymous strangers on Reddit (as u/AgileAtty). You can find the original post here. Like the majority of us, I am currently dealing with an increased work load, and finding it a challenge to stay on top of things. I'd really appreciate your insight and experience on the below. What systems or routines do you have in place to stay on top of work? Do you use a First in, First Out system? How do you track open files and ongoing requests? Of course, whenever an urgent matter comes in, that takes priority, but I'm finding my trusty to do list ... (Keep reading)

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Systems/routines to manage workload

One of my first best bosses was fond of saying “measure what you treasure” (it’s catcher than the Peter Drucker formulation). But finding the right things to measure in a law practice can be confusing. A recent guide from Clio recommends 62 Key Performance Indicators your firm should measure. 62 KPIs! That’s a lot of metrics.Before I get to the six measurements I care most about, understand that the thing I treasure is the flow of work through your law practice. Specifically, I care about flow in your delivery pipeline. Expanding briefly on the Theory of Constraints I've written about before, there are three high-level systems that make up a ... (Keep reading)

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Six Metrics for Legal Workflow Improvement

Before I get started today, a quick plug: Just yesterday I was waxing poetic about summer, but for a lot of you (especially those with school-aged kids) you probably feel like fall has already started. Not to rush you, but that means we’re on the downhill slope to the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023. Which means it’s time to start thinking about your strategy planning for the next 12-18 months. Strategic planning is one of the things I truly love doing with law firms and legal teams. If you’ve never done formal strategic planning, I can help you get started. If you’ve done it before but without ... (Keep reading)

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Agile Principle 1: Our highest priority…

One way to think of Agile is as a set of practices that a team engages in to achieve a desired result. I'm a child of the 1980s so I think of this as the "wax on, wax off" part of the Karate Kid training sequence. If your actual delivery team is working under an experienced Agile coach or other practitioner, that might even be how you get introduced to Agile. In that case, you wouldn't get to decide whether to have a daily standup (more on that later), it would just be something your team does.Examples of Agile practices include those daily standups, plus weekly planning, weekly review, backlog ... (Keep reading)

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What is Agile (for Lawyers)?

One of the biggest challenges facing the firms I work with is too many in-progress matters. Lawyers love doing intake (for a variety of reasons, including that serotonin boost I mentioned yesterday), but we have a tendency to over-stuff our “doing the work” system without getting those cases closed and archived. My goal is for your firm to achieve equilibrium between your “getting the work” system and your “doing the work” system. The former should respond to the available capacity of the latter. That’s the nature of a pull-based system. It is also very different from how most firms think. It is a common mistake to be demand-oriented. “We should ... (Keep reading)

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Close the Closable

This is part of my series where I try to help anonymous strangers on Reddit (as u/AgileAtty). You can find the original post here. Solo practitioner here (using Clio for billing/client management). We all understand how important it is to track time, but I still struggle. Does anyone have any programs they find helpful, or tips/tricks/hacks they can share that they have found helpful? Thank you in advance. There are three high level systems in your law firm: The “Getting the Work” system; The “Doing the Work” system; and The “Getting Paid” system. Your law firm cannot succeed if any of those systems is not working well and in balance with the ... (Keep reading)

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Tips/Tricks/Hacks/Programs For Tracking Time

Last week I introduced the first of the principles behind the Agile Manifesto: “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable work product.” I’m going to start this post about assumptions with by assuming you have no quarrels with trying to achieve customer satisfaction. But why is “early and continuous delivery” is essential to achieving customer satisfaction? The answer: because there’s nothing like a deliverable to validate assumptions. Or to invalidate them. “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” — Isaac Asimov If you’ve been practicing for more ... (Keep reading)

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Deliverables Challenge Assumptions

Today I’m reaching back to an episode I recorded for Megan Zavieh’s Lawyers Gone Ethical podcast back in the early days of the pandemic (April 2020). I had just published a video titled Why US Courts Will Gridlock, about why I (correctly) believed that courts shutting down in early 2020 would have long-term ramifications for their dockets. I bring it up now because the concepts I explored in that video (and in Megan’s podcast) are every bit as applicable to your law practice as they were/are to the courts. Topics Megan and I discuss include: The inherent tension between protection and accessibility.Survivorship biasLittle’s Law (or why work slows down if ... (Keep reading)

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A Chat About Accessibility

“Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable work product.” —Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto I realized this morning that I’ve been carrying on about deliverables for several days now without explaining why a guy who calls himself the Agile Attorney cares about them so much. The quote above is slightly modified from the (software-centric) 2000 Agile Manifesto, which has been preserved in amber on a delightfully late-1990s era website. As I continue along my own learning journey, I find that I’m more of a pragamatist than an Agile dogmatist, but there is still a whole lot of wisdom captured in that original ... (Keep reading)

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Early and Continuous Delivery