Project management has been essential in the corporate world for a long time, but it’s also important for any law firm looking to stay competitive.
Using skills such as risk management, planning, budgeting, and resource allocation, law firm project management creates consistency for lawyers and law firm processes and ensures a positive experience for clients.
What Is Law Firm Project Management?
Law firm project management, or legal project management, is the management of processes and delivery of legal services using a defined methodology. In the legal industry, “projects” are anything a lawyer completes, including cases, matters, deals, disputes, contracts, or agreements.
By leveraging different aspects of project management from other disciplines, legal practice management provides structured work in managed stages for measurable and predictable results.
Why Is Law Firm Project Management Important?
Law firm project management arose in response to changing market demands. The legal industry may be traditional, but client expectations, market competition and other factors are pushing law firms to become more cost-effective and proactive.
Sound, efficient processes are integral to success for firms of any size, especially as they grow and scale. Having established processes in place means that projects and their results are consistent for an elevated client experience.
There are additional benefits, including:
Predictability in how projects are approached, how long they will take, and how any obstacles will be overcome
Efficient planning for lower costs and better budgets
More client satisfaction with consistent, transparent experiences
Why Law Firms Struggle with Project Management
Even if they recognize the need for project management, many law firms struggle to put it into practice. In general, the legal industry can be largely traditional, but there are other obstacles that can hinder effective project management.
Many firms struggle with limited staff. Adding project management tasks to an already full plate stretches resources too thin, leading to errors and missed tasks. In addition, law firms may already face challenges with time management – a key component of project management.
If a law firm hasn’t embraced legal technology, these struggles are amplified. Dealing with outdated processes and time-consuming tasks – on top of tasks like planning, budgeting, resource allocation, and budgeting – can quickly become overwhelming.
Who Manages Projects for Law Firms?
Legal project managers handle planning, efficiency, and risk management for projects. They don’t necessarily have to be lawyers, but they must possess an understanding of the specifics of the industry.
There are additional skills that legal project managers should have, including:
Critical and strategic thinking skills
Technical management skills
Business organizational skills
How to Implement a Law Firm Project Management Strategy
Effective legal project management looks different across firms, cases, matters, and internal projects, but it has these basic components:
Set a Goal
All projects need a goal, whether it’s a marketing strategy, client case, or another internal initiative. Set a goal for what you want to achieve at the end of the project and monitor your progress along the way.
Create a Timeline
Create a timeline that includes deadlines and milestones necessary to reach your goal. If the project involves different teams, include them in the projected timeline.
Define which teams or staff are responsible for each task or step of your plan, as well as the person responsible for the final completion of the project.
Implement Technology Tools
Law firm project management tools help improve the overall productivity and efficiency of a law firm. Having this built-in feature allows firms to get a full view of how their staff’s time is allocated and helps them make informed decisions about which areas of the business are the most profitable.
Time tracking for lawyers also helps with legal project management by keeping tasks organized and ensuring that projects are going according to schedule. You can view upcoming, overdue, and completed tasks at a glance.
Embrace Legal Project Management
Legal project management is an important aspect of running a modern law firm. But with the right processes and systems in place, plus the right legal software that can support project management, you can reap the benefits of effective project management to keep your law firm running smoothly.
Dan Bowman also contributed to this article.
©2006-2023, BILL4TIME. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.National Law Review, Volume XIII, Number 48