Onit

Nov 16, 2010

Legal Project Management – Need of the Hour

All of a sudden, there has been a steep increase in the popularity of legal project management. You will find many attorneys undergoing training on the subject, attending day-long seminars, tuning into web casts and getting certified as project managers. The topic seems to be top of mind in the legal community and is on the rise.

Interesting enough, the principles and concepts of project management related to legal issues were unheard of just a few years ago. Today, however, lawyers and corporate legal departments alike understand the tremendous change when the subjects are linked.

It will not be wrong to say that it all started when the economy forced corporate legal departments to get serious about reducing their outside legal costs. Initially, attorneys were interested in legal project management because they needed to gain great visibility into their legal matters and projects and have a means to better predict future legal spend. This spurred general counsel to aggressively negotiate fixed prices for standard legal work. Hence, the rise of alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) finally.

From the law firm perspective, attorneys are under a lot of pressure to bill more hours, produce exceptional work and maintain profitability in the law firm. On the flip side, their clients want them to work smarter, harder, faster and at a reduced rate.

Enter the need for legal project management.

Most firms can achieve a much higher return on their investment if they apply the techniques of legal project management appropriately. There are many training programs that are being conducted on the topic. With a little guidance and expert advice, most can quickly come up with hundreds of ways to save money and time. You just need to ensure that the course or training program is led by someone who has good knowledge about the unique needs of legal project management.

Project management is still a new concept to the legal profession and everyone is still trying to figure out how to make it work and what it can do. It is no doubt a key component and it is just starting to transform how legal professionals operate. It will ultimately require top-to-bottom, comprehensive and long-term changes in the way all lawyers do business.

Unfortunately, many lawyers are reluctant to change but the tipping point has already come and now is the time to get onboard or risk getting left behind. Embracing legal project management principles is not a matter of when, but how quickly it will become customary for lawyers to practice law and be project managers.

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