Just as the law never stands still, the delivery of legal services is constantly evolving.
At Osler, we have embraced our clients’ needs for more predictable and cost-effective legal services. By delivering services from our clients’ point-of-value, we have strengthened our relationships with existing clients and have built strong relationships with many new ones.
Delivering services from our clients’ point-of-value requires that we tailor our services to meet the expectations and needs of each individual client. By making investments in upfront planning and ongoing communications, we understand how the client defines success and what we need to do to help the client achieve it.
A critical factor in making good on our commitment to clients has been the roll-out across the firm of project management methodologies and process improvement tools.
Our Five Steps to Effective Matter Management program is based upon tested project management principles. Highlights of these principles include the following:
- Defining Success – At the outset of a new matter, we hold a formal discussion to confirm a client’s goals and key issues. We record our understanding of the project, the client’s expectations, objectives and success criteria, and we spell out our respective roles in achieving a successful outcome. We then share this information with everyone on our team.
- Developing a Plan and Project Launch – Using a number of custom-developed planning tools we develop a project plan that outlines the client’s goals, the scope of the engagement (including a review of how work can be done most efficiently and by whom), and a realistic budget.
- Managing the Team and the Work – With the framework for a successful outcome established, we can move on to what our clients have come to expect from Osler – direct access to a team of skilled lawyers with the right expertise for the job. We work efficiently and effectively, ensuring that clients get the answers and outcomes they need, on time and on budget.
- Ongoing Client Communications – We communicate proactively and regularly to ensure that clients know about our progress on their files, the fees incurred and any upcoming milestones or deadlines.
- Continuous Feedback – Throughout a matter, we review our performance against the project plan, and ask for a client’s candid feedback. Through this continuous feedback loop, we are able to refine our service delivery throughout a matter and reinforce our commitment to delivering services from our clients’ point-of-value.
In addition to the best practices embedded in our Five Steps framework, Osler matter teams use a number of tailored matter management tools including:
- Budgeting and Planning Tools – Our Matter Information System allows our lawyers easy access to all of the information they need to develop realistic project estimates, as well as flagging precedents, lawyers with relevant expertise and other resources.
- Billing and Financial Information Reporting Tools – We have developed Intranet-based tools that give members of our matter teams immediate access to real time financial data on a matter-by-matter basis. Our system also automatically notifies the partner responsible for a matter when fees (including any disbursements and taxes) have reached specified thresholds of the project budget.
- Information Sharing and Dialogue Facilitation Tools – We have implemented a set of communication tools and online portals to allow for the effortless exchange of information within a project team and between our lawyers and our clients. We also take full advantage of external information sources such as online due diligence tools for commercial transactions.
For more information on Osler’s Practice Innovation Office and our Five Steps to Effective Matter Management, we invite you to contact Peter Daubaras for a demonstration of our tools and approach.