Legal Project Management

Over the last few months I have noticed a marked uptake on the topic of legal project management in the legal literature and blogosphere. Although I think lawyers have always “done” legal project management (not always well), I also think the recent buzz on the topic is related to the economy and the recent emphasis within the legal profession on changing trends and the need to do legal project management better.

SLAW recently did a book review of Steven Levy’s book called Legal Project Management. In addition to Steven’s book, there is also Jim Hassett’s The Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide: Tools and Templates to Increase Efficiency.

The Lawyer’s Weekly (Canada) also had a recent article providing a nice overview on legal project management: Michael Rappaport, “Legal Project Management’s New Billing Paradigm” (14 May 2010).

There are also numerous blogs now devoted to the subject that I am following, including blogs by the two foregoing authors (please “Comment” below if you recommend other blogs specific to Legal Project Management)

Not included above, of course, are numerous law-related blogs that often discuss legal project management in addition to other legal issues. Such sites include Mary Abraham’s Above and Beyond KM, Ron Friedmann’s Strategic Legal Technology, and Dennis Kennedy’s blog, to name but several.

I also note two upcoming conferences on the topic (please let me know if you are aware of others):

In my recent paper called “The Evolution of Law-Related Knowledge Management in North America – Opportunities for Law Librarians” (10 May 2010) I included legal project management as one of the “7 Faces” of law-related knowledge management. Expect to see legal project management gain in profile/stature over the next year as lawyers and law firms all grapple with how to better deliver legal services.

Comments

  1. Thank you for pulling all these resources together, Ted. Very helpful!

  2. Ted,
    That’s an interesting follow up on Peg’s post re E-Discovery Project Planning. Perhaps I can reuse part of comment on her post to reiterate that “This post comes in handy as project management has been making important leeway in the legal market, more or less as it did a couple of years ago in the IT arena. Perhaps e-discovery is part of the equation in that legal and IT departments are cross-pollinating in the course of an e-discovery project or to ensure their corporation’s litigation readiness.” Do you think legal’s interactions with IT explains the project management trend or is it due to the current economy which forces lawyers to become more effective?
    Cheers!
    Dj)

  3. super-helpful and great timing thanks!

    I notice from the brochure of the KM Legal event in New York (Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession – October 26-27, 2010 – New York, NY) that there are a whole bunch of potentially useful presentations (and a day-long workshop in fact) on LPM.

    And Dominic: although I think IT has something to do with the trend towards adoption in law firms – IT projects don’t tend to have a fabulous success rate from a lawyer’s perspective – so I have tended to downplay the link.

    I think, done well, PM *does* smooth out some of the wrinkles in a project lifecycle, as well as improving both the quality and quantity of communication that happens between project teams and stakeholders. With the economy as it is and demands for improved efficiency and value from clients, any methods that can prove to help deliver on both these fronts whilst also allowing law firms to remain profitable will be welcome.

    If PM turns out not to be it then perhaps other approaches may well be tried (Lean Six Sigma for the committed? Agile for in-house teams? User Experience (or Client Experience CX?!)? IA lifecycle principles? etc etc could all take their turn).

    But for now, if LPM can adopt even just a couple of the more useful/applicable tools and tips for running a team and a matter better – showing both value & efficiency improvements to their clients – then I’ll be happy.
    thx
    K8

  4. Have you done any comparisons on actual courses/certificates focused on project management versus reading books/blogs about techniques? I only ask because sometimes reading helps enough for one to apply the techniques and other times it’s better to practice application.

    Additionally, is there much difference between something like applied project management and law specific project management? Or can project management skills be generally applied across the board?

  5. Thanks Claudia – great questions, no easy answers. I am attending the Legal Project Management Ark Group seminar in late September where Steven Levy will be presenting so will have a chance to compare his “written” approach (with what he says in his book) versus what he says and the techniques/practices that I assume will be discussed at the seminar.

    Personally, I remain a bit leery of expensive “black belt” certification (for me, at least although I would fully understand others who might want that training).

    Perhaps it is a combination of the techniques you describe. Ultimately, I think my goal will be to come up with “toolkits” that allow lawyers to make practical decisions on how to best estimate fees for clients, how to staff and organize a large deal or lawsuit and the like.

    I would expect to blog here on SLAW after the Ark Group conference and can share my comments then.

    I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  6. This is probably the ultimate resource for legal project management, which is gaining a lot of attention lately. The only resource I don’t know about is that of Jim Hassett. I think very soon legal project management will an important business (training, certification, etc…).

    Another resource on the subject is an article I’ve published a few months ago by Altman Weil: Legal Project Management: A trend in the tipping point. It is written by Pamela Woldow and
    Douglas Richardson.