Legal project management (LPM) is about properly planning a legal matter to promote efficiency, productivity and profitability. While LPM is a useful tool for solo practitioners, it is extremely valuable within a law firm where several attorneys may collaborate on a single matter.
When this is the case, it is essential that the LPM group work as a team, with each person playing their respective part in reaching a successful outcome. Just like in the world of sports, every good team needs a leader to direct them through the game.
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That is where the project manager comes into play.
The main goal of the project manager is to ensure that the primary purpose of the matter is accomplished. In sporting terms, you want your team to win the game, and that starts with a winning game plan.
- The play book – Just as a coach uses a playbook to communicate the game strategy to his players, you use the project plan to communicate the matter strategy to your team. The project plan serves as a general guide for how the matter will proceed and what individual tasks are necessary for successful completion. As project manager, your eyes should be the last to review and approve the final project plan. Try to identify any inconsistencies or overlooked issues. If the project plan is inadequate, the rest of the project can easily fall apart. So, be sure to send your team on the field with a complete and comprehensive game plan.
- Quality assessments – When a team is on the playing field and a coach sees that one player is under performing, does he wait until the end of the game to correct? No, he deals with that player immediately, before the entire game plan is put into jeopardy. LPM offers the same type of opportunity to assess team member performance while the project is ongoing. This allows you to address any problems immediately, instead of waiting until completion of the matter. Designate milestones and goals throughout the project process. Use them as benchmarks to review the project’s progression and gauge the work of each member. Then you can make needed corrections instead of jeopardizing the game win.
- Profitability – I had a hard time coming up with a sports analogy for this part of your project manager responsibilities, but I figure that when money is the issue… who needs an analogy? As project manager, you want to ensure that your project is profitable for the firm. This requires the consideration of costs, efficiency, and productivity. Take time to not only review this information ahead of time, but also periodically throughout the progression of the project to ensure that your team’s work productivity is promoting maximum profitability.
As a project manager, you are the coach of your team. With a complete game plan and mid-game corrections, you can lead them to victory and successful completion of any legal matter that comes your way.
About Erika Winston:
Erika Winston is a Virginia based writer with a passion for all things legal. As a former domestic relations attorney, she understands the challenge of determining the best fee structure for your practice. Erika is a regular contributor to TimeSolv and a variety of other publications.
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