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Six Sigma as a tool for law department management

A recent interview with the General Counsel of General Electric mentioned that the department “uses aspects of GE’s Six Sigma statistical analysis, used to enhance productivity in its factories, when buying time from blue-chip law firms…” (Financial Times, May 12, 2005 at 9). Brackett Denniston, the GC, explains, disingenuously I suspect, that to apply Six Sigma to a problem, “you start with a rigorous analytical process, you apply maths (sic) to the extent that you can, and you measure it.” (See my post of July 14, 2005 about Six Sigma and ranking law department management tools.)

The reality of Six Sigma is much more complex. Even so, quite a few law department have adopted Six Sigma techniques to cut Gordian knots of management. I have read of Honeywell and Tyco, for example, unleashing their belts on various activities. It behooves management of law departments to understand the basics of the technique, especially if it has taken root in their company.

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