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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance

Continuous Improvement

Optimising people and processes

We never settle for less than the best because you shouldn't either. That's why our teams include Continuous Improvement experts, who make sure every part of our process is as efficient as possible. It's all about delivering client outcomes and how to make sure we can get there together.

Facing rapidly changing markets and ever greater competitive pressures, our clients demand more from us: better ways of working, greater value and more efficient use of resources. That's why we developed a Continuous Improvement capability in 2010 – and have been investing in it ever since.

What is Continuous Improvement?

Continuous Improvement is based on the principle that any process can be streamlined and improved upon, with no compromise on quality. By fully understanding what is involved in each task, and drawing on the experience of those carrying it out, Continuous Improvement can create significant benefits.

Our own Continuous Improvement programme, based on the principles of 'lean' and 'six sigma', recognises that process improvement techniques can make legal work more efficient. Putting it into practice, our global team of certified Continuous Improvement professionals work alongside our lawyers to help streamline legal tasks and deliver outstanding value.

How does it work?

We begin by identifying the area that needs attention, whether that's due to concerns over expense, speed or quality. This can relate to a specific part of a process or from end to end.

We then collect data to create a baseline from which to measure progress. Next, we bring together all parties to map out the process, share viewpoints and identify bottlenecks. Supported by our Continuous Improvement experts, we find the best ways to deal with problems and design a new, more streamlined solution. This may involve the application of technology and automation, the use of our Delivery Centres to streamline tasks, or making changes to the way that lawyers, client and support staff work together.

Finally, once changes are implemented, our Continuous Improvement team collects further data to measure progress, whether that be in terms of reductions in cost, time saved for lawyers or feedback on the new process.

Key benefits

Clients get better value because our lawyers' time has been freed up to concentrate on the most complex challenges.

Our lawyers can work more efficiently and, with the support of other professionals in our organisation, deliver an outstanding legal service.

The collaborative approach that sits at the heart of Continuous Improvement also helps clients to identify and eliminate any inefficiencies within their own processes.

In the longer term, those who have worked with our Continuous Improvement team benefit throughout their career from the new skills and approaches they have learned. 

Continuous Improvement in action

Our banking client wanted to speed up the transactions that we regularly worked on together. By bringing all parties together to analyse every step of the existing process, our Continuous Improvement professionals were able to help them to identify the bottlenecks and then agree the changes that needed to be made.

These included implementing a more efficient signing process and improving reporting processes, so that both client and lawyers were in step and working at the same pace.

As a result, transactions are now completing on average 40% faster, reducing the time they take from 72 to 38 days.

Taking the next step

In a business environment where only the most efficient and adaptable will thrive, Continuous Improvement offers the opportunity to not only reduce costs now but also prepare better for the future.

To learn more about how our Continuous Improvement capabilities have helped others and find out how they can help you, contact Tom Slate.

Continuous Improvement at a glance

  • 35 Continuous Improvement professionals globally, streamlining more than 50 client facing processes every year.
  • We helped our banking client to introduce a better way of doing repeat contract review work. This led to a more efficient signing and new reporting processes, which reduced the average run time by up to 40% per contract. Contracts that used to take an average of 72 days to review now complete in 40 days.
  • For a global employment litigation matter, we identified how we could speed up delivery using machine-learning software to review more than 1,000 contracts. This reduced our lawyers’ efforts by over 50%, creating efficiencies for the client and accelerated delivery.
  • For a loan portfolio migration, we identified the right technology and specialist resources to improve quality and achieve a 40% cost reduction for a client in a due diligence project.

  • Our international banking client undertook the largest re-structure in its European history. With entities across 20 business lines and 25 jurisdictions, the due diligence challenge was highly complex. We created more efficient processes to deliver outcomes more quickly and reduce legal costs by 50%.

Insights from the Continuous Improvment team

  • Creating a more efficient way of working together

    Facing rapidly changing markets and growing competitive pressures worldwide, every business needs to become as efficient as possible. In this blog, we explore the role of continuous improvement in modern legal departments, the benefits of implementing continuous improvement in your business and why process improvement will continue to grow in the future.


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  • Change Management and Project Management: What is the difference and why does it matter?

    Change management and project management are often, and incorrectly, conflated. Maybe the simplest way to tell the difference between change management and project management is to think of it in terms of 'technical' and 'people' change.

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  • Learning to see is now even more important

    In a recent meeting, I was reminded that one of the most critical skills that change professionals must have is “learning to see”. Not only does it give us a fresh take on how we do things as a business, but it also transforms what we can do for our clients. Each time we embrace continuous improvement, that potential grows yet further.


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