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 kanban boards in their own workflows for decades, so it is only natural that the kanban interface has worked its way into many of the tools they build.
As of this writing, I'm aware of a half dozen or so "for lawyers" software tools that use, or offer, a kanban interface. These include Clio Grow, Lawcus, Lawmatics, Legalboards.io, NetDocuments, and RocketMatter. (If I'm missing any, please let me know!). On top of that, plenty of lawyers are using general-purpose tech with kanban views to help run their practice, tools like Asana, Trello, Microsoft Planner, Monday.com, and, to a lesser extent, more powerful tools like Kanbanize, Jira, or KanbanZone. (click here to see my favorites).
Which means that thousands of lawyers and their teams are out in the world using kanban right now! That should be very exciting for me. And it is... my only lament is that very few of them are making the most of this incredible tool.
The good news is that by putting their work on a board, people are implementing the first of the Kanban methodology's core practices: Make the Work Visible. Just that step can be incredibly powerful; it goes a long way towards solving one of the most common worries I hear about from lawyers: "I worry that something is falling through the cracks."
And for many people, getting that visual look into their workload may be enough. But I worry that folks are stopping there simply because they don't know what to do next.
If that's you, a good place to start is to learn about all six of Kanban's core practices:
Kanban Core Practices
1. Visualize the Work, the Workflow, and the Business Risks
2. Limit Work in Progress (WIP)
3. Manage Flow
4. Make Process Explicit
5. Implement Feedback Loops
6. Improve Collaboratively, Evolve Experimentally
I'm not going to go into the details of all six in this post. Instead, I'm going to do that over the next several weeks in a series of webinars I'm calling Kanban for Lawyers Office Hours. Each week I'll touch on one of these topics and answer your questions about how to start using -- or make better use of -- the Kanban method in your law practice.
Sessions will be held via Zoom, and I'm asking folks to register first by getting a free ticket via Eventbrite. I also plan on recording each session and making it available for later viewing on my resources page.
I hope you'll join me.