20 Clues that project management can transform your legal prowess

by Jan Schiller

Project management is more structured and complex than a document or case management solution. Many organizations want their legal services to be more disciplined, efficient, competitive, adaptive, profitable, and proactive with less leakage. Is your organization one of them? 

Project management is a group of techniques by which a plan is developed and executed to produce a desired result for the client. Every well-managed project must consistently implement risk, audit, and legal best practices. Project management can help an attorney, their teams, their clients, and their organization coordinate and direct efforts to achieve the desired outcome of a particular case, file, or contract matter. 

Project managers make sure everything is right: the right activities happen in the right order, at the right time, performed by the right people, with the right amount of money, to produce a result that is right for the client. 

Project management and project managers help attorneys and their team’s track, manage, lead, and predict. Three critical elements of project management embodied in a plan are scope, schedule, and budget. When executed according to the plan, surprises are dramatically reduced. 

Every client matter is a project. Every case is a project. 

Project management techniques can help you transform and modernize your legal skills if you: 

  1. Want to offer alternative fee arrangements, such as providing a detailed fee quote, but find it difficult to justify, define, or implement.
  2. Incur more fees than quoted to the client due to changes since you provided the quote. 
  3. Strive to easily justify larger fees upfront.
  4. Struggle to deliver exceptional services at lower price points.
  5. Have clients calling you because they wonder if you will produce the results they expect on time and on budget.
  6. Manage an organization with multiple clients and are uncertain about who is working on what and if your organizational strategy will be realized.
  7. Do not know if or why your organization is at risk for exceeding its budget, making it difficult to predict your organization’s total annual expenses.
  8. Have no idea what your organization is working on.
  9. Are not able to focus on the most important tasks or are not able to identify the most important tasks.
  10. Want to coordinate and communicate consistently with everyone (clients, partners, associates, paralegals, finance staff, outside staff) to improve morale, trust, and teamwork.
  11. Realize a critical matter is already in progress, and you have not been involved but should be.
  12. Question your ability to maintain a competitive advantage.
  13. Need to adapt to a changing environment and have no idea how to get started.
  14. Want to provide client services more efficiently, significantly reduce leakage, and improve profitability/your bottom line.
  15. Have clients with large, complex problems. 
  16. Want to give your clients more than they knew to ask for, or what they never knew they wanted.
  17. Wish to improve the value of each client relationship.
  18. Want to improve effective resource utilization and the consistency in which your team applies legal best practices.
  19. Are surprised by a requirement in a request for a proposal asking for an explanation of how project management is implemented for the matter, what techniques are involved, and how that has benefited past clients.
  20. Want to align with the operational best practices of your clients so you can gain or improve their trust and collaborate more effectively.

Understanding and applying basic project management approaches, techniques, and tools will better help you help your clients and your organization in a constantly evolving legal landscape. Start now, before everyone is doing it.


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