Legal Project Management & How is it Different from Project Management?

If you are managing a legal matter, then you will realize that irrespective of whether it is a transaction or a dispute, it can be equally important as doing the actual legal work. Attention to both the planning of the project as well as its execution will ensure that the expectations and needs of the clients are met in a timely and cost effective manner. Recent surveys, however, have concluded that the majority of in-house counsel is usually dissatisfied with their outside law firms.

Some of the main reasons behind this point of disagreement are poor communication, lack of responsiveness and high cost. As a result, clients are addressing their dissatisfaction through various measures including task-based budgets, scheduled reviews and the creation of clearly-defined scopes of work.

If you are managing a legal project, then you need to first understand that it is not very different from managing a construction project and development program. Focus of these activities is mainly directed on monitoring, controlling, planning and closing a scope of work within a certain time period and within a specific budget. These professionals often refer to the schedule, scope and budget as the three main constraints of any project.

Legal project management is mainly concerned with monitoring the project and it does not focus much on the execution of the work. Efficient and effective management involves business tools and skills that are slightly different from the legal tools and skills that are used by legal attorneys or professionals.

Legal project management tools are important for many reasons but primarily because they allow lawyers to spend less time doing administrative activities and more time doing their core competency — practicing law.

Scope of work in legal project management is basically the project plan. It acts as a road map to show how a legal matter or project is going to be executed. It defines the overall objectives and goals and asks questions like, How will the work be conducted? Who will do the work? How will changes in the scope of work be addressed? How will status updates be reported? How often will we communicate about the project?

Efficient legal project management requires a mix of tools, techniques, knowledge and skills. But that’s not all. A project manager can truly only be successful with open and frequent communication. Without this basic concept firmly in place, no online tool, widget or application will make a difference.

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