Legal Project Management - a sub-area on the rise
The term Legal Project Management was coined in recent years to describe the application of project management methods in the legal field. The approach makes sense because, after all, project management tools were developed to solve complex problems and tasks. A project can be a flight to the moon, the development of a new drug or the construction of an airport. So why not a legal problem as well? There is often no lack of complexity here.
Marion Ehmann explains on Xing the advantages of so-called Legal Project Management, abbreviated as LPM. Marion Ehmann works in team development and knows a lot about legal services. Below we summarise her article for you.
Similarities between law and project management
Project management is about dividing mammoth tasks into manageable bites and then tackling them step by step. In doing so, all legal and statutory requirements must always be observed, budgets adhered to and time schedules taken into account. Ehmann points out that it is always important to keep to the right order in the project to avoid unnecessary work. Project management is customer-oriented and must be efficient. All this applies in a broader sense to legal advice and the field of jurisprudence. In legal issues it is just as important as in project management to define and clarify the task precisely, to set up efficient time management, to optimise cost planning and to carry out quality control at the end. This is how legal project management came into being as a sub-discipline of project management.
Legal project management
Ehmann looks at the subject from all sides. For example, she explains that there are various methods in classical project management that are specifically tailored to construction projects. Others are at home in software development and are basically only used in this field. However, there are also some PM tools that are specifically suitable for legal tasks. In legal project management, the working and thinking methods of lawyers are taken into account. At the same time, users have to think a little outside the box and review old habits. The bottom line is that the use of project management methods in the field of law and legal advice should lead to a modernisation of work processes.
Projects in the legal field
Ehmann undertakes an excursion into the definition of a project. It is a project that is unique and is intended to lead to a specific goal. A project always has a start and an end date and is pursued through controlled and coordinated activities in which time, resources and quality each play a role. If one uses this definition of a project as a basis, legal tasks can also be mapped under it. They are always goal-oriented, have a starting and ending point and are also unique in a certain way. At least, according to Ehmann, every contract is unique in its details. Time and resources are limited, as with other projects, and lawyers naturally also want to achieve a certain level of quality. If you want to deliver good projects in the field of law, you also have to know how to deal with the last detail: The work steps in a legal project should definitely be coordinated and controlled. If you approach the question in this way, you can see every file and every mandate as a project.
Who does Legal Project Management?
Gabriele Ehmann writes that all legal advisors should at least know the basics of legal project management. It is irrelevant whether they work in a firm, a law firm or as independent lawyers. Even for paralegals and employees in legal secretariats, it can't hurt to keep up to date in the area of project management. Each of these jobs can and should take on different tasks in a legal project. Ehmann assumes that the benefit is greater in large law firms and companies, but that in general every lawyer can benefit from knowledge in project management.
How do I learn Legal Project Management?
Of course, there are courses in general project management that teach the basics. Many can apply what they learn to their own projects, at least in part. However, transferring this information and know-how to legal fields is quite complex. Several reference books on legal project management have been published in English. However, training courses are also offered specifically for lawyers who want to deal with project management. These courses are then less about general project management and more about the implementation of project management skills and methods in the field of law and legal advice. Lawyers have to get involved in project management and learn to understand it as a new part of their work. Implementation is only accomplished when the methods and techniques of successful project managers are applied in the everyday life of lawyers.
The advantages are better organisation of work, increased cooperation between clients and lawyers, and more efficient cost control. It also does no harm to look at legal workflows and projects from a new perspective and to manage them more simply, quickly, effectively and cost-efficiently. Finally, Ehmann points out that lawyers do not need any new equipment or software for this change or reorientation in their way of working. The conventional office tools and a whiteboard are perfectly adequate. According to Ehmann, legal project management will become increasingly important in the coming years, because the market for services by lawyers is large and growing. So the competition is also growing and it is becoming increasingly important to be able to offer more service for less money. This is only possible with additional know-how.
Author: IAPM internal
Key words: Project management, Legal Project Management, Mindset