Kanban Project Management for Law Firms

Kanban project management has seen universal use in virtually every industry, even if you’ll still find some companies that haven’t heard of it. In many cases, this is usually due to habit and complacency in doing the same procedures for decades. The entire business world is getting more complex, though, and streamlining workflow is a near essential. There isn’t any place needing this more than in a law firm.

If you own a legal practice, you already understand how competitive your field is. It’s always been competitive, but finding ways to stand out involves more efficiency in how things operate. This means creating a better workflow so you eliminate waste and focus more on client value.

Kanban brings all of this to the legal profession by better organizing the procedures you do while working on important cases.

Let’s take a look at how Kanban can help you get more things done, and get the right things done.

Identifying Waste in Your Law Firm

Before you start a Kanban management plan, you need to analyze where your problem areas are in your legal practice. Consider this like an audit as you’d do before acquiring new technologies or adding procedures.

You may find out you have more waste in your law firm than you ever thought was possible. It’s common to find a lot of shocking surprises after digging deep into how much waste a company has.

Some wasteful things aren’t always apparent, yet once you scope them out, you can begin to hone in on prevention. Examine whether you have waste due to areas like overproduction, over-processing, long wait times, or delays in document transfers.

These are just some things you may discover, and likely many more. They all spring from trying to take on too many work tasks at once for the sake of multitasking. In reality, you’re losing productivity trying to tackle everything in a work day.

You need to bring real client value by focusing on the right tasks that bring the best results. Using a Kanban board, you’ll break down your law firm tasks to multiple categories.

The Standard “To Do, “Doing”, and “Done” Columns

Most experts on Kanban for law firms say you should at least use the classic three-column board to gain the most benefits. If you’ve seen these Kanban boards before, you know it breaks down to “to do”, “doing”, and “done.”

In the “to do” column, you place sticky notes on tasks you need to do with new clients. These tasks are essential and need doing now to help progress a case. Sometimes it’s just simple things like reviewing documents, drafting documents, or creating a power of attorney.

In the “Doing” column, the point is to appreciate that you’re doing one thing through to completion in the moment to eliminate multitasking. Since science shows only 2% of people can multitask effectively, it brings down the notion you can work on everything and get each task done efficiently.

Afterward, what’s completed goes in the “Done” column where you and your law team can visualize things you’ve finished. On a psychological level, it gives you more order and control in the work you do.

Variations on the Kanban Board

All law firms are different, and Kanban boards require customization based on specific work tasks. Some add a “Backlog” column before “To Do” to show what’s lagging and what needs doing soon.

A “Waiting” column could get added as well where you time out exactly how long it takes to complete specific projects. Using this, you can see how to better manage time and find out root causes of why tasks take longer than they should.