Podcast Review: Karen Dunn Skinner & David Skinner on Lean in Law Firms on LeanBlog.org episode #185

Podcast #185 – Karen Dunn Skinner & David Skinner on Lean in Law Firms — Lean Blog: “Mark Graban’s guests for episode #185 are Karen Dunn Skinner and David Skinner and the topic, for the first time on the Podcast, is Lean in law firms and the legal profession. David and Karen are husband and wife, attorneys, from Quebec, and consultants for their firm Gimbal.”

Loved this podcast. Very instructive to dig into a different industry striving to implement Lean Principles.

Items discussed in the podcast:

  • How do Lean methods apply in a Law firm?
  • What are some benefits to the clients and the firm itself?
  • How do you get past the “we don’t build cars” objection?
  • How widespread is Lean in the legal profession?
  • How did Karen and David discover Lean (and Six Sigma) as attorneys?
  • What’s the balance between using Lean and/or Six Sigma in law?
  • How can standardized work and checklists help?
  • Why are legal clients dissatisfied with the pricing and quality of legal work?
  • How do you strike a balance between law being an art vs. being a process?

Thank you Mark, Karen and David for sharing.


Is it dangerous to do lean when others aren’t

If you happen to work for a company that does not follow lean principles, is it dangerous to apply lean processes yourself?

For the sake of the discussion, let’s assume you run a division with ten people. You have a fixed budget and a mission to fulfill. Together with your staff, you device better ways of interacting with your customers and you are now able to do the same amount of work with eight people.

In a company following lean principles, you would be allowed to redirect those two people to different work, to other challenges. In those conditions, improvements and innovations would be used by the people for the people. For the benefit of all.

In a company run by spreadsheets, what would happen? Your budget would get cut by the equivalent of two people. You might end up having to fire those people.

See where I am going?


And that is a common direction for many companies.

Planned Abandonment Session

Before you start anything new, it is often necessary to stop doing something else. Unless you do that, you will soon hit the final frontier: There are only 24 hours in a day, and you can’t make use of them all. At least not productively.

Eliminate what? Distraction, Waste, Rework, Nuisance, Trouble, Administration, Movement. Well, you’ve got the picture. Eliminate something that does not add value to your life. And yes, sleep has a great value, so don’t plan to skip on that.

Peter Drucker suggests to plan on a regular basis a “Planned Abandonment Session” during which you systematically assess what you do and see what you can stop.

This concept of eliminating something, preferably some kind of waste is also linked to the Lean methodology.

So my advise is start your planned abandonment session ASAP.