Circa 2009. Enter legal project management. Of course, successful lawyers have always done some form of LPM. It was how they anticipated costs, risks and scheduling, as well as managed the seemingly elusive billable hour. But the best systems are repeatable and documented, and these ad hoc managerial methods existed only between the ears of the partner-in-charge.
LPM just makes good financial sense. Consequently, it took hold and is here to stay. All around the country, law firms are training project managers. But what about the rest of the folks? Here’s why they need training, too.
Legal Project Management is the New Black
Nowadays, most companies have mounting internal pressures to select, if not the low-cost provider, the one that provides the most value. So, a greater number of business clients are demanding LPM from their law firm partners, both large and small. This allows them to more tightly anticipate and control legal expenses and assure stakeholders that they are good stewards over their fiduciary responsibilities.
How can law firms ensure that they are delivering value? Through better systems and processes. The processes that underpin systemic LPM ensure consistency and replicability, the two things that virtually guarantee, not just efficient client service, but better profitability for the firm, as well. Okay, maybe guarantee is too strong a word. But, if you bake the right processes into your LPM, you have the recipe for solid success.
Which is why it’s so important to make sure that everyone is on board. You can’t stop, though, at just putting the LPM system in place, training project managers, and sending out a memo to the masses. In order for change to occur—and really stick—you’ll need to ensure that what you are doing is accessible, i.e, understood, attainable and appreciated.
Changing Minds and Cultures
LPM is a culture change. If you don’t believe it, join the one-third of companies who have tried to improve processes by focusing on tasks and minimizing the people. Culture is not only “how we do things around here,” it embraces the expectations, values, ethics and goals of the people who make up your firm.
This is where effective training comes in. Training creates a shared experience and helps build collaboration and transparency, fostering the attitude you need to meet your objectives. That’s something you can’t accomplish with a memo.
Training doesn’t create firm culture. But if your people have neither the skills nor the knowledge to embrace the new normal, you’ll never fully realize the many benefits of LPM. Successful project management may be a function centered in one individual, but it requires the cooperation of all.
Not everyone needs to undergo the type of rigorous LPM training necessary to be in charge. There are many people, however, who can support the delivery of exceptional value to your clients. These people must have a basic grasp of the fundamentals of LPM, and also understand the benefits for the firm and its clients.
What Do You Think?
What’s been your experience with inculcating the LPM culture in your firm?