Image of Nicole Ortiz

Nicole Ortiz

/ Best Lawyers Summer Business Edition 2017

For more than 10 years, Seyfarth Shaw has been utilizing an original client service model, coined SeyfarthLean, to provide transparency to their clients and cater to each client’s specific needs. By utilizing the Lean Six Sigma principles, and through dedicated trial and error testing, Seyfarth Shaw has crafted an end result that leaves clients satisfied and competitors curious.

As the first company to tap into this model, the firm sought out a consultant that had brought Lean into finance. From there, they developed a Six Sigma Green Belt training program catered specifically to their firm to iron out the details. Managing Director of Lean Solutions at SeyfarthLean Consulting Kim Craig shares, “Through that first training, we realized that there was something there. There was something that could help us improve our delivery to our clients, meet some of their needs that they were starting to articulate to us.” 

One of the most integral aspects of SeyfarthLean is changing a mindset and being prepared to alter one’s approach to work. Craig describes it as “making sure you’re understanding the client expectations and needs; understanding if you’re working and solving a problem; understanding what the problem is that you’re looking to solve.” Additionally, there’s a stressed importance behind “the transparency to the client in the process, [because] many of the clients want to be engaged in that upfront discussion around articulating what their needs are.”

SeyfarthLean drew from the DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, and control) framework, which is part of the Six Sigma principles and can be used for problem-solving.

To deliver their polished product to clients, Seyfarth Shaw cycled through the process, looking at where there might be issues and reducing redundancies and other “areas that are wasteful” to create an end result that “is sustainable, [where] people don’t go back to doing things the way they always did.”

They are able to stay organized by using over 500 process maps that span various practice areas and countries that the firm is involved with. These maps detail everything from who would be the best attorney for that specific job to client-specific guidelines and checklists. Craig says that clients “know that we have outstanding attorneys; what many clients are interested in is understanding how we’re delivering that work.”

As the trailblazer with Lean Six Sigma, Seyfarth Shaw hasn’t been selfish with this approach—in fact, they embrace sharing it with legal aid organizations, law schools, and even competing firms. 

“We feel that it’s part of our mission and belief that working this way and thinking this way—putting clients first—is critical to the future of the legal industry and it’s to the benefit of our clients. … We’re also trying to permeate it, not just to big law, but to other areas in the legal industry where we really think it has a value and benefit that can make a difference.”