Legal Project Management is a great idea that, apparently, no one wants to pay for. Law firms find it hard enough to get paid for things they actually “do”. These tend to be specific tasks, write a letter, file a brief, a deposition, a court appearance, etc. It is difficult to get paid for “review file” because the client believes that this type of task should be covered as part of general overhead and therefore included in the rates charged for actually “doing” something. Yet reviewing the status and planning the next course of action might very well be “project management” activities.
Sometimes it’s difficult to describe exactly what Project Management (PM) really is, what do you really “do”?
Wikipedia even has a definition for Legal Project Management. It’s interesting that even Wikipedia points out the use of PM in the e-Discovery arena.
We were fortunate to have Steven Levy at our RainMaker Annual Client Conference this year. He provided us some interesting perspectives on legal project management. You should check out his book on Amazon, it is quite interesting.
One thing is certain; it is hard to understand Project Management. I can tell you for certain that without it you’ll have mismanaged projects and they are VERY COSTLY from a number of angles, including unhappy clients.
Law firms already do Legal Project Management, sometimes by accident, but do it. The secret to success is to define the best you can to clients and find ways to get paid for it. Project Managers are crucial to the success of any defined project, both firms and clients must agree to a way to pay for the true cost.