Recent trends in the legal industry show a growing number of law firms and law departments applying the concepts and principles of project management to the control of legal matters, files and cases.
Client expectations for cost effective and value added legal services have prompted attorneys to look for ways to provide greater value, predict costs and reduce risks while increasing profitability. Legal project management is the answer for many law firms and law departments.
For those unfamiliar with the topic, “Legal Project Management: Control Costs, Meet Schedules, Manage Risks, and Maintain Sanity,” by Steven B. Levy, is a good resource to consult. Levy explains why legal project management should be used, defines what it is and who should be involved.
The book provides an overview of measuring value and the metrics to do so. Implementing legal project management and the project stages necessary — initiation, planning, execution, and delivery and evaluation — are covered in detail. Levy addresses the client perspective and why legal project management is now required by many clients. The book is a good introduction to legal project management in an easy to read and understandable format.
Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide by Jim Hassett is available to law firms and in-house counsel from LegalBizDev, a provider of legal project management training and coaching. Now in its second edition, the guide provides tools and templates to help attorneys set goals, identify, schedule and assign tasks, create and manage budgets, and manage quality and client communications and expectations. The guide contains appendices highlighting sample checklists, legal project management trends, topics such as alternative fees and overcoming resistance to change, and a variety of templates.
To keep up to date with trends and developments in legal project management, it’s useful to read the blog Legal Project Management (www.legalprojectmanagement.info/blog/), which provides “thoughts, tips and discoveries related to the management of legal projects.”
The blog highlights recent articles, interviews, book reviews, seminars and other legal project management news. Links to legal project management resources in the areas of certification, education and software are available and helpful for finding additional information. The blog may be searched by keyword or browsed by categories such as alternative billing, training and “law firms that get it.” An archive of past entries can be browsed by date. Readers may post comments and share information on the site.
A number of organizations offer legal project management training or consulting services. These companies include LawVision Group and LawBizDev.
LawVision Group recently released two interactive online courses on legal project management. The first course is a foundations program covering legal project management principles, skills and processes. The second course provides skills training and integrates legal project management principles, skills and processes into the daily management of legal matters.
In addition to the Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide, LawBizDev’s Jim Hassett produces a blog with news, commentary and tips relating to legal project management. Links to or copies of law project management articles by the author are also available on the LawBizDev website.
For more experienced legal project management practitioners, the Project Management Institute’s Legal Project Management Community of Practice offers a members only networking and collaboration resource. Members can share ideas and experiences, find best practices, access legal project management documents such as checklists and templates, and participate in professional development webinars.
Marie Calvaruso is the director of Libraries and Research Services at Harris Beach PLLC. She holds master’s degrees in business administration and library science. She is a past president of the Association of Law Libraries of Upstate New York and has served on the membership and retention committee of the American Association of Law Libraries.