7 Steps to a Lean Law Firm: Steps 1 and 2

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Lean Law Firm: The New Year’s Resolution Attorneys Should Absolutely Follow Through On

When I last wrote about the Overhead Swamp of Law Firms, and the importance of becoming a lean law firm, I outlined a 7-Step solution for not only getting your law firm to a lean place, but also improving security, productivity and workflows that will enable you to be more responsive to your clients. The first two steps I want to dive into are:

  1. Accountability
  2. Documentation


Getting your law firm to a leaner operating level is a team effort. Every team needs a leader – that’s not necessarily your managing partner, although it could be. Rather, the lean leader is the one person in the firm — associate, partner, assistant — who understands how the technology is set up, how to troubleshoot and whom to go to for help when there’s trouble.

This team leader should also find a trusted technology mentor for your law practice. Think of this mentor as Yoda to Luke Skywalker (“Trust the Cloud, you should, young Skywalker”) Luke couldn’t master the Force without help, he needed a mentor. But Yoda didn’t make Luke dependent on his powers, he taught him to master the Force for himself. A tech mentor will empower, teach and will be there when you need guidance. The mentor doesn’t need to be a lawyer but needs to understand law firm workflows so that the best practice management tools can be located and implemented with as little disruption to the daily work as possible.

All technology decisions should be centralized through the lean team leader to avoid overlap, waste and miscommunication. Got it?


Documentation is security through redundancy. When speaking in terms of technology, redundancy is a good thing. Redundant documentation – which will most likely be centralized with your lean team leader – will consist of lists of critical information like:

  • key vendors
  • key account info (logins, passwords, users, etc.)
  • passwords
  • where to call for help in a technology breakdown
  • specific procedures to maneuver through a technology crisis

Think of what you would do if a mobile phone was lost, if there was a data breach or some other crisis. Use secure online tools like LastPass and Evernote. Keep a hard copy of your most essential information in a fireproof lockbox.

A Moment For Passwords:

Everyone hates them. To be truly secure, you need long, nonsensical passwords with both characters and letters – unique to each website/tool so that if your password is found out, there is only one point of entry. You don’t want to spend time memorizing your passwords, but you also don’t want to expose yourself by duplicating them or by making them too facile. Empty your head of useless information. The best tool is a password manager like LastPass or DashLane. With those tools, you only have to remember one password. All of your other passwords are secure and can even be created by the app and synced across your devices. Maybe soon we’ll have biometric authentication that makes all this unnecessary, but for now, just do it.

In my next post, I’ll discuss synchronization and document management for the lean law firm – it’s like the cake and ice cream of being lean. I’ve just brought you back, yes?

Getting Started

If all of this sounds great in theory, but you still don’t know where to begin, give me a call or shoot me an email. I started LeanLaw with the mission that every lawyer should have a lean practice.

Join the LeanLaw Movement!

Gary Allen, Founder and Practicing Attorney