Six Sigma at Professional Firms

Tom McCarty gave a fascinating talk on how professional firms can build client relationships using the Six Sigma principles of corporate America. Why? Because Six Sigma is the language that clients are talking and they are attracted to professional firms that employ the program.

McCarty is Vice President of Motorola University Consulting Services in Schaumburg, Illinois. He's a Six Sigma "black belt" and spoke this morning at the Legal Sales and Service Organization conference here in Boston.

I was astonished to learn that several leading law firms are already using Six Sigma principles, which Motorola invented and GE made famous. The law firms are keeping it secret that they've adopted Six Sigma, because it's such a huge competitive advantage. Here's my educated expose as to the law firms that have done so:

Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy LLP
King & Spalding
LeBoeuf, Lamb
Gibson, Dunn
Shearman & Sterling
Weil, Gotshal
Baker & Hostetler
Irell & Manella
Jones Day
Morgan, Lewis
Armstrong Teasdale
Cantor Colburn
Fish & Neave
Goodwin Procter
Hunton & Williams

If I've wrongfully named your firm, I challenge you to tell me I'm incorrect.

Ideally, a professional firm will actually employ Six Sigma, which is an efficiency program designed to engage customers in a collaborative dialog, drive joint business improvement projects, and drive sustainable, strategic relationships with key clients. It's a major culture change for law firms.

But for those of you looking for a short cut, here's some Six Sigma lingo you can toss into a conversation:

*The Big Y: this refers to business results that matter, a company's prime goals.
*A company's "x's": these are the activities that will enable a company to achieve its goals.
*Green belt or black belt: levels of expertise at Six Sigma
*3.4 defects per million opportunities: this is the definition of Six Sigma
*DMAIC: for define opportunities, measure performance, analyze opportunity, improve performance, control performance
*Innovations workshop: gathering the senior partners of your firm in the same room with top executives at the client company, and getting the executives to "spill their guts" about the metrics that drive their business, what drives their customers, understanding the client's current processes and prioritizing potential improvements. The meeting takes about 3 hours.

Obviously, I'm cramming an entire process into one short post, but for more on Six Sigma, Read Tom McCarty's new book, The New Six Sigma

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Comments (7) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Roger - August 2, 2004 4:10 PM

Nice one.
More six sigma lingo and a fresher tutorial is available at Also we have a free eBook about Confidence Intervals in Six Sigma.

Carol Todd Thomas - August 4, 2004 7:50 AM

Powell Goldstein has been using Six Sigma since 2001 and I have spoken about this at national conferences. Surprised you didn't know this. I have a masters in organization development and was trained by Margarite Foxon of Mortorola.

Barry Waldman - October 13, 2004 9:00 AM

New to Six Sigma - have read "What is Six Sigma" by Panda and Holppe and dozens of WEB sites. MY questions to the Six Sigma community -
1. What is the best book to get next?
2. What training by what Six Sigma training entity is good?
3. Is there a credible, quality online Six Sigma training course? - November 24, 2004 10:54 AM

Professional six sigma solutions, free initial consult: - January 16, 2005 4:35 PM

A large number of high quality professional Six Sigma key informational resources can be reviewed at the Resource Links Directory.

Provided by: Pro Six Sigma.

bill yates - January 8, 2006 4:16 PM
Meikah Delid - March 14, 2006 12:22 AM

This is an interesting post, though almost two years old. Common notion has it that Six Sigma only works in manufacturing companies, and then in transactional services. It will be doubly interesting if you can cite the Six Sigma programs of these law firms.,

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