Project management is a difficult area of study and when we are talking about legal project management, it becomes even more critical. If you are not clear about what legal project management is, let me explain. Simply put, it is the application of project management principles but in the context of the legal world – cases, matters, litigation, transactions or projects.
Lawyers and in-house attorneys are beginning to understand why project management tools are critical, especially with the rise of alternative fee arrangements (AFAs). For example, how can a law firm measure whether or not it is profitable if they can’t distinguish what drives more revenue — hourly billing, AFAs or blended approaches? Enter project management.
Legal project management tools can provide insight into all areas of billing whether they are fixed fees, AFAs or blended arrangements. In fact, this type of management is becoming a significant means to help many law firms and corporate legal departments limit their risk and exposure, reduce excessive spending and improve collaboration among team members.
Irrespective of what profession or business you are in, we all manage projects. It doesn’t matter if they are legal, business, school or home-improvement related. Having a clearly defined process and ability to continually monitor, access and evaluate the process will define the outcome and success of the project. From our perspective, it seems easier to rely on technology to simplify the process.
Project management involves the consideration of the following aspects:
- Define Project Terms. Defining the project scope early on is critical to ensure all team members are aligned on the goals and objectives. This task alone can eliminate many unnecessary hours of wasted work.
- Assign Project Tasks. A clear time line of project deliverables and tasks is necessary for a successful project execution. This also gives ownership to the various team members and eliminates any confusion about who is completing the various tasks. When implemented correctly, the project manager can quickly determine if expectations are being met.
- Communicate. Communication is the cornerstone of managing a project. When working on projects with multiple team members, written communication is preferred. In fact, centralizing all the notes, documents, conversations and status updates in one place will make it easier to manage the project.