BillCommercial article

By 

KorumLegal’s proprietary Korum Process Methodology (KPM) focuses on helping law departments “do more with less” by applying the best practices of Lean, Six-Sigma and Agile methods to the delivery of legal services in the APAC region.

 

Legal process management in North America vs APAC

Legal process management has been around in North America for nearly two decades. Its roots lie in recognising that legal services are often times delivered inefficiently and that typically communication between a law firm and its client is untimely and disengaging for the client on any issue other than the core legal issues being addressed. At this point, nearly every North American and European law firm of significant size has invested in project management training, and many global in-house departments have made similar investments. However, to date, there has been limited adoption of project management principals in the APAC region.

This limited adoption is attributable to three reasons. First, legal practice in our region of the world is different. We face a mixture of common law and civil law jurisdictions, a mixture of languages, and a different set of factors that drive both cost and risk in legal services. Second, process management in North America has been focused on delivering enhanced communication about a legal mandate, particularly around communicating changes in price and giving more notice around budget performance. It has not been focused on actually delivering efficiency, measuring those efficiency gains, and translating those efficiency gains into value for clients. Finally, this region has long been considered a growth market rather than a mature market and as a result the focus has been on increasing top-line revenue, not optimising processes to improve bottom-line profitability. Although, that mindset has been shifting.

Where does the Korum Process Methodology (KPM) come in?

KorumLegal, an alternative legal solutions provider dedicated to creating the new reality in legal solutions across Asia, has stepped into this market shortcoming. As part of its continuing commitment to offer a full spectrum of solutions for the operational and technical needs of legal teams in Asia, KorumLegal is now offering the Korum Process Methodology solution to drive efficiency, value, and strategic business success. KPM is the result of combining the expertise and experience of several KorumLegal consultant-experts across numerous disciplines, such as Lean Manufacturing, Six-Sigma Manufacturing, Agile Teamwork, Kotter’s Theory of Organisational Change Management, among others, to create a unique process improvement offering tailored to the needs of Asian legal departments.

As businesses have grown and developed, they have taken two basic approaches to their legal departments. Some have taken advantage of comparatively inexpensive legal talent to create large and heavily staffed legal departments to support the operational work of their companies. However, that approach is now being constrained by rapidly increasing labor costs for high-quality legal talent as well as the inability to scale these manual operations in the face of exponential growth. Others have approached legal staffing with a dramatically lean approach, leaving a very small legal team with responsibility for numerous business lines, numerous jurisdictions, and every possible substantive legal area as part of their team’s responsibility. That approach is now similarly strained as legal risk and regulatory complexity have rapidly grown over the last several years and the process for fielding a large set of outside law firm lawyers has become cumbersome and a drain on managerial resources.

How is the KPM implemented?

Focusing on this set of regional operational issues, KPM offers a solution to general counsels that are stuck between the “rock” of a growing business and the “hard place” of not being able to scale to meet the ever-growing demand for legal services. There are three main keys to the success of the KPM approach. First, as part of the process, lawyers and their key client-stakeholders are guided through a discussion to identify what value means in the legal services being delivered. Typically, there are several different things that are being delivered by the legal team: risk management, opportunities for revenue growth, negotiation advice, etc. However, the value that is perceived or asked for by the client may be substantially different: eg, project management, institutional memory of previous transactions, driving the deal to execution, etc. The KPM process brings alignment between the lawyer and their client on what exactly is the value that justifies the legal department’s involvement in this process. By focusing on the concept of value, teams also enjoy enhanced risk management by making sure that risks are not only addressed, but also evaluated carefully in the context of the opportunities they create.

Second, the way that the legal department works on the process is closely scrutinised to ensure that the workstream is lean, focused and optimised to deliver maximum value with minimum required resources (time and money). KPM has identified seven kinds of legal waste common to legal service delivery, which are re-engineered out of your workstreams during the optimisation portion of the methodology. Third, because process optimisation fundamentally requires behavioral change across the people in your organisation, KPM is fully integrated with a change management protocol that brings the legal department as well as its stakeholders along the change journey to ensure that the new process is not only designed, but actually adopted and used.

The impact of the KPM approach

Because the new process is value driven, the business will notice an impact on their overall business strategies because of the improved focus on delivering the results that count. Furthermore, by making the process as lean as possible, the most precious resource of any legal teams — time — is also freed to be reallocated to other tasks. This can allow your legal team to embed themselves more deeply into the business, focus their energy on business-critical strategic events rather than day-to-day operational needs, and get more deeply involved in mitigating the most significant risks the business faces.

The most immediate impact of the new process is generally felt in the accelerated speed to market that the legal team can now deliver. Typically, businesses face a bottleneck with their legal department taking too long and ultimately slowing down the process of getting deals done. Historically, applying the KPM optimisation methodology has resulted in dramatic improvements in turnaround times — between 15 percent and 50 percent. This is delivered utilising nothing more than the existing resources of your legal team; no technology investment is anticipated. This improvement can be directly quantified in terms of capacity and cost savings. Furthermore, KPM sets the foundation for further legal department transformation and scalability. For example, the detailed process map that is created as part of the KPM methodology can serve as the roadmap for further technology integrations to drive even greater returns in efficiency and efficacy.

KPM helps lawyers (1) focus on only doing the right things (2) doing those things extremely well, and (3) working effectively as a team with their clients. Whether the results are measured in money, time or risk management, the bottom line is always the same: operational excellence.

To find out more about KPM, please contact Bill Novomisle at bill.novomisle@korumlegal.com. For further information on process and legal operations in general, please see our blog.

Related Articles by Firm
A journey from traditional working practices to a flexible workplace
Policies that let employees work remotely can improve productivity and reduce staff turnover.
Innovation in legal services: What it is and how we do it
To begin the innovation journey, we should first understand what we are talking about.
Managed legal services: part of a new paradigm for the legal solutions market
The emergence of alternative legal solutions is giving clients a lot more choice.
Your first 10 days as a legal consultant
The challenges facing legal consultants are unique and require a different set of skills to other employees.
Nobody's got time for that! General counsel and legaltech
How to overcome the lack of time, resources and knowhow needed to implement technology solutions.
Lifting the veil on payments
Payments companies need to understand and comply with many complex laws and regulations.
Do you have what it takes? Successful, flexible careers for lawyers
KorumLegal takes a look at the type of lawyers and consultants it works with and the appeal of NewLaw.
Related Articles
Adopting eDiscovery for internal investigations
In-house counsel are often called on to manage an internal investigation. How can you effectively plan for and manage these investigations? We explore how electronic discovery (eDiscovery) tools help you mitigate risk and achieve your fact-finding mission.
Venture capital flourishes in the MENA region on a strong offshore foundation
The recent announcement of Uber Technologies Inc’s acquisition of its Middle Eastern based competitor, Careem, in a cash and stock transaction worth US$3.1 billion, has renewed the spotlight on the burgeoning venture capital market in the Middle East and ...
Encouraging foreign direct investment in Vietnam's education sector
One of the noteworthy points under Decree 86 is educational association, which is defined as twinning between Vietnamese private kindergartens ...
Related Articles by Jurisdiction
Latest Articles
The Philippine Competition Commission bares its teeth
For the first time since its inception in 2015, the Commission has blocked a merger after conducting its review.
Bridging the Thai-Chinese cultural divide
China will soon become the leading foreign investor in Thailand, but there are still significant challenges for the unwary.
跨越中泰文化差异:寻找最佳法律合作伙伴
当她10岁随父母从中国移居泰国时,看到很多同时期的中国移民因为对泰国法律缺乏了解,投资受到重大损失。自此她矢志学习法律,立志帮助中国新移民跨越泰国的法律雷区,在泰国安居乐业。