Get your process right.
Then everything else will click.

You may not realize it, but you're living the script of an infomercial. You know that moment where the actor mushes a tomato with a dull knife or wields a vacuum that can't seem to pick up whatever just spilled out of the junk drawer. You probably don't have those specific problems, but I bet you've uttered the line that marks the transition of every infomercial ever:

"There has to be a better way!"

Maybe it's your intake. Maybe it's your practice management software. Maybe it's trying to get your client to turn their homework in on time. Probably it's a general feeling that things just shouldn't have to be this darn hard.

John E. Grant a/k/a The Agile Attorney

Whatever it is, someone has probably tried to sell you a miracle cure to fix it. Probably that cure involves software, though different versions of the cure could be a "growth is awesome" marketing plan or  a "7-figure law firm in a box" kit (as long as you're locked in as a member of our club for the next few years). 

I'm not going to do that. 

Not because I don't think there's a better way (there is) or that you can't have a multi-million dollar law practice (you can). But I'm not going to try to sell you a miracle cure. I don't believe in silver bullets, or magic beans, or whatever other quick-fix metaphor comes to mind. I don't believe you can just "think and grow rich" or "unleash the power" to walk across burning coals.

If a miracle pill is what you're looking for, you shouldn't have any trouble finding someone who wants to sell it to you. Probably they've found you already. I wish you luck.

I'm more of an "eat your vegetables" person. But delicious vegetables, harvested at the right time and prepared well. I'm a "move your body more often" person. But starting with the kinds of movements you already like doing and venturing out from there.

More than anything, I'm a "start where you are" person, with the journey of a thousand miles and that important single step. What I do is help you take that step in the right direction. What I do is help you see WHY it is the right direction. What I do is help you understand how much better you're going to feel when you take it.

When you need me, I'll stick by your side as you take that step. And I'm happy to help you take the next one if you like where we're going.  Or, if that first step makes the rest of the path clear to you . . . well that's even better. I'm here to teach you the process of process improvement, not to hook you into a long-term program that depends on me..

There's a Japanese concept called "kaizen" that roughly translates to "continuous incremental improvement." The closest thing I can compare it to is the compounding interest (which Einstein famously called "the most powerful force in the universe"). The process goes like this: (1) Identify an opportunity for improvement (ideally one that is at your bottleneck). (2) Devise a small experiment to try to improve the flow of work at your bottleneck. (3) Measure to see whether the experiment worked. (4) Repeat.

If the experiment worked, that's great. You've made a small gain that you can learn from and improve upon. If it didn't, no big deal; we still learned something. And that's why we keep the experiments small—to minimize the consequences of failure. Because if you're not failing every once and awhile, you're not trying hard enough.

It's hard to describe exactly what this looks like for you because it really depends on what you need. I asked my client Jess Birken to describe it, and she came back with this:

"You're kind of a process whisperer. You solve for people not knowing where their things are broken because they can't see it when they're in the middle of it. It's hard to describe, but you help people make the journey from point A to point B, where A is some painful place that clearly isn't working but it isn't clear why, and B is some better place that depends on what the person wants: more time, more money, happier clients, fewer dropped balls, a more engaged team, etc. What you do in the middle is the process whispering: 'Hey lawyer, I know you can't see WHY you are in this sucky place, but I see it. It's your process. Let's fix that.'"

I'm not sure I can explain it any better than that. I love getting legal professionals and their teams to their point B. If that sounds good to you, book a discovery session and we'll figure out what that looks like for you.

My Story

Although I'm a fourth generation lawyer, I spent nearly a decade in the technology industry before going to law school.

Starting with the 5:00 am tech support shift and working my way up to heading an international operations team, I spent time in just about every business function but facilities and finance. Along the way I learned the cornerstone of business success through superior customer experience; an approach that continues to serve me and my clients to this day.

We were one of the great success stories of the late 1990s, first disrupting and then consolidating an entire industry by using superior product design—empowered by the right technology—to deliver outstanding customer value.

Legal Experience

In law school I hit all the right notes: Editor-in-chief of the Law Review, selected to the Honor Society, and a summer associateship at a prestigious local firm. But I turned down the job offer that followed.

The firm itself was fine; smart people doing solid work for their clients. But something about their model seemed staid after the rocketship ride of my early career. I knew there had to be better ways of doing the work, and I was determined to figure them out.

I've spent the last decade doing just that. My career has taken me from in-house counsel to partner in a boutique IP practice to Legal Ops professional for an AmLaw-ranked firm to consultant for a Fortune 100 legal department.

Today I'm a fellow with the International Institute of Legal Project Management, a member of the Oregon Bar Board of Governors, on the board of a nonprofit Legal Incubator program, and, most importantly, a trusted adviser to legal teams just like yours.

How I Bring Agile Methodology and Law Together

Ironically, I first learned about Agile only after leaving my technology job. During my time there, we used traditional methods, complete with their bloated planning and missed deadlines. We simply didn't know any other way (Agile as a cohesive methodology didn't exist before 2001).

But when I went in-house after law school, the company had embraced Agile development methods. I was amazed to see how much more effective the delivery cycle and how much tighter the planning cycle was. Most importantly, however, the resulting products were flat-out good.

I remember thinking at the time, "I wonder if there is something in this Agile thing that could work for lawyers?" But I was too busy learning the ropes as a lawyer to give it much attention.

Still, the notion stuck. Over the years I soaked up everything I could about Agile, and then about Lean, Design Thinking, Lean Startup, and other related concepts. Through training, study, and experience I've learned (and continue to learn) what methods work for different kinds of legal teams in any number of different situations.

I'll admit that when I first started beating the "Agile for Lawyers" drum in 2014 it was more of a theory; it sounded like it should work but I couldn't be sure until I tested it in some real-world situations.

Today I can say it with certainty: Agile not only works for legal teams, it excels.

Agile teams report improved visibility into the team's work, better communication, improved productivity, faster delivery with less re-work, and greater client satisfaction.

Ready to find out how Agile methods can work for you?  Book a discovery session and we'll figure it out together.