Often, the process improvement team discovers that its data stores are unreliable or
the VOC and value-stream mapping reveal that unreliable data flows affect the overall
efficiency of legal processes. In these cases, law departments should seriously consider
an internal audit of data management protocols, including an inventory of how each
team member stores, updates, and accesses shared or private stores of information.
CASE STUDY: Data-driven value assessments for outside counsel management
Don Walther, the general counsel at Heico, realized quickly after he started at
the company in 2011 that he needed to improve the law department’s operations.
Heico, the parent company for a diversified portfolio of over 35 businesses
involved in manufacturing, construction, and industrial services, had literally
hundreds of law firms handling its cases.
After adding a Lean expert to his department’s staff, Walther and his team
pursued an intensive course of process improvement to reduce the company’s
legal costs, decrease the variation in case duration, and improve their legal
outcomes. As part of their process improvement efforts, Walther and his team
turned to data to help track the effectiveness and efficiency of Heico’s outside
Using the Serengeti software platform, they generated data on outside firms that
billed the most hours, as well as their rates. The team also defined “value-added”
and “non-value-added” work and coded each firm’s billing entries accordingly.
As a result, Heico was able to calculate each firm’s “Legal Cycle Efficiency,” giving
the legal team a standardized measurement of the value of work provided by each
“Our understanding of ‘value’ was anecdotal until we had the data,” Walther told
the ACC. “It had previously been a very unfulfilling discussion. Now we could
Heico found that Shook, Hardy & Bacon had the highest efficiency rate among its
outside counsel and was delivering the highest value in terms of its hourly rate.
Heico and Shook then teamed up to further improve Shook’s efficiency in several
ways, including secondment of Shook associates and even more rigorous focus on
value-added services as defined by Heico.
The result was an increase of more than 10 percent in Shook’s efficiency rate in
only a few months, with cycle times on pending cases dropping from 600 days to
around 100 days. The total cost saving from elimination of non-value-added
work is projected to be at least 10 percent.