Feb 192016

Legal Project Management

Do you understand what legal project management is? Do you know how to apply the principles to build your practice, increase your efficiency, and keep your clients satisfied with your services?

LESA’s upcoming Legal Project Management program, with experts Pamela Woldow and Patricia Olah, will answer all these questions and more.

Today’s blog, with Pamela Woldow, fills you in on why you won’t want to miss this program and the chance to add another useful tool to your practice management tool box.

What is legal project management?

People often want it to be like a cookbook: you add 1 teaspoon of this and ½ a cup of that and then you come out with a wonderful result. But it’s not mechanistic. Legal project management is largely a mindset and an approach to preforming legal services. It is a methodology for assessing more carefully at the outset what really the client needs from the law firm, rather than assuming or guessing or just turning on the meter and starting to chase rabbits. It’s a highly collaborative methodology for assessing need at the outset of the matter or transaction and then planning what should be done. The client-facing part is assessing the need. Planning is very much the internal part within the law firm: planning who should be doing the work, how they should be doing it, and how to continually improve what we do so that we can deliver it more efficiently and become more proficient at doing that type of work. Then you need to carry it out. The part that is probably new to a lot of firms would be to monitor and measure the progress. Are we getting more efficient at what we’re doing? How do we know? What are the mechanisms we have to … capture the knowledge of if we were more efficient? … How do we spread that knowledge?

What will I gain from the Legal Project Management seminar?

Attendees will gain a new tool to keep current clients, make them happier, and potentially obtain new clients who are not so happy with their current counsel. The legal market in Canada, in the world frankly, is quite competitive these days. The flat legal spending that we’ve seen for the last 5 years is going to continue to persist, and the only way to be more profitable is to keep your current clients and get some new ones from other firms. This is a tool, a mindset, an approach … [for how] one lawyer can go back to his or her office and apply these practical steps to move them along the way.

What type of law practice should use legal project management techniques?

This isn’t just for big corporate clients. Legal project management is just as applicable for a small business or for individuals; it may even be more important for small and mid-sized clients because they’re even more cost-sensitive than big corporations. This isn’t just for big law or big clients. It’s across the board.

What will be the main takeaways from the program?

Part of the materials will be certain kinds of checklists. They’ll necessarily need to be adapted, but, instead of starting with a blank piece of paper, you’ll have some scoping checklists, some approaches on how to have a conversation that is more focused, and what you need to ask or obtain when you’re discussing with clients so that you can better focus the services that you’re going to provide. They’ll be some checklists; they’ll be some budget templates that we see some clients using. … The other thing that … I’m certainly seeing with the larger Canadian entities, is that they’re using RFPs (Request for Proposal) more extensively. … I know that your big banks and some of your large manufacturing companies are using RFPs to make selections about outside counsel. So we will be suggesting good ways to go about pricing and getting the information you need so that you don’t look like every other law firm that’s answering the RFP.

Can you give me a sneak preview of one tip you’ll share at the program?

One of the things that I’ll make readily apparent is how to learn about the larger issue for your client, so that you’re really meeting their needs. About 64% of clients – and this goes for Canada as well – … report that they’re dissatisfied generally with their current counsel: that their counsel don’t really understand the problem, that they’re focused on the legal issue not the larger business issue. One of the things that participants will walk away with is how to get to the real issues that are bothering your clients, not just the narrow legal focus. This is very important in today’s world, because the number one thing that clients say they want is for their lawyers to understand their business.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about the program?

If people don’t know what legal project management is, it is critical that they know that term. That term is appearing in almost every RFP that goes out today. … You need to at least understand it. You can’t be effective with clients if you don’t even know what they’re talking about. … There will be examples; you’ll see how it works and how it is different than the normal, traditional approach. It will expand your view of how to use it, and you’ll get an understanding of what that means. A lot of people think it’s just an add-on to something that you do to legal work, but it’s a really different way of approaching your work.

Register Online

To get in on all the tips Pamela and Patricia will be sharing at the Legal Project Management seminar, register now to save your seat in Edmonton (April 13) or Calgary (April 14).

Register by March 8 to take advantage of the special early bird registration pricing!