A growing number of law firms and legal departments are integrating Legal Project Management (LPM) systems into their internal workflows. LPM is a tool to help deliver better, more cost-effective service to clients— and an important strategy for improving a firm’s overall financial position. Here are the key points to understand about best practices for LPM.
As defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI), project management involves the “use of specific knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to deliver something of value to people.” LPM, a particular type of project management, is a systematic approach to the planning, controlling, and completion of legal work within a clearly-understood framework which takes into account the specific business-related challenges inherent in providing legal services.
LPM adoption has soared in recent years. There is a relatively straightforward reason why— clients are facing increased financial and/or budgetary pressures. They want and expect greater predictability, accountability, and cost control from their legal service providers. A well-developed LPM system will help you meet these emerging demands from both current and potential clients.
Clients have been trying to control their legal spending for years. Nearly a decade ago ABA Journal published a report finding that cost reduction was a priority for large corporate clients; this trend has only continued and impacted practice areas all across the legal industry. Here are a few key expectations clients hold for their legal service providers:
As lawyers and firms face these increasing client pressures, a well-designed LPM system can help enormously.
LPM is an abstract and general term for a workflow process that can take many forms. Considerations such as your practice area, the size of your law firm or legal department, and the needs of your clients will determine the specific structure of the best LPM system for you. Indeed, there is no one right or wrong way to handle legal project management. That said, all effective LPM systems share a few core principles:
Of course, execution is just as important as planning. Ultimately, an LPM system is just a structure to help law firms and legal departments work effectively by ensuring that tasks are assigned and completed in a timely manner, authority is delegated when appropriate, and matters that need attention get the required follow-up. No matter how carefully you plan, unforeseen complications will arise. A well-crafted legal project management system will help you and your team address and resolve those issues.