Legal project management gives firms a competitive edge, equipping them with the tools to reduce risk, strengthen outcomes and lower costs.
At its crux, there are 6 key skills you need to master to take full control of your projects – and these will be useful whether you are a practicing lawyer or a legal project manager.
Susan Raridon Lambreth – renowned international LPM expert – explains.
1. Designing detailed budgets
To be effective in managing matters to meet client expectations, you need to scope projects at the outset and mitigate unexpected costs as matters progress.
With many tools at their disposal, skilled legal project managers find ways to reduce costs that others miss.
According to Susan, “Most law firms have millions of dollars in avoidable write-downs and write- offs each year. However, that number can be significantly reduced with legal project management approaches.”
In fact, in a growing number of firms, the legal finance teams upskill in LPM so they can collaborate closely with lawyers.
“LPM provides pricing teams with a shared language to ask lawyers for the information they need to build detailed budgets. It gives them the confidence to probe more deeply and to consider the matter and its costs from all angles.”
2. Crafting clear communications
Susan notes that according to global malpractice insurers, one of the most common causes of claims is a failure to communicate to manage client expectations and help explain risks.
To mitigate risks as they arise, firms need to communicate well, often, and throughout the life of a matter.
Enter legal project management.
Professionals using LPM approaches create regular engagement touchpoints to help teams collaborate and ensure risks aren’t overlooked or misunderstood.
“After upskilling in LPM, I've seen partners perform a risk analysis on each project they do. They realise that these tools don’t only reduce risk, but they inform the legal strategy for the matter too,” says Susan.
3. Developing comprehensive plans
Despite the best-made plans, changes can and do arise as projects develop.
“Through forward thinking, clearly-defined responsibilities and a detailed plan, a lawyer or skilled project manager has the tools they need to empower a team in the face of uncertainty.”
They also know how to develop comprehensive project plans to prepare the team for what's coming down the pipe.
And that means no sudden increases in people’s workload, which would result in diminishing team motivation or projects running off course.
4. Conducting rich stakeholder analysis
No project will succeed if stakeholder goals are misaligned from the outset.
That’s why the ability to conduct a detailed stakeholder analysis is such a vital element of any legal matter.
While many practitioners may avoid open-ended questions – feeling exposed if they don’t appear to know everything – those skilled in legal project management don’t hesitate.
Through training, lawyers and legal project managers have learned to be curious and ask the right questions to build richer stakeholder relationships.
“With a structured approach and the right framework, even the most introverted lawyers can spark these conversations and gather matter-critical information,” says Susan.
5. Focusing on the big picture (without overlooking the details)
Lawyers need to know how to take full control of their projects.
This means they need big-picture thinking to explore the range of risks and opportunities throughout a matter.
But they also need to pay attention to the details to ensure a matter progresses smoothly and within scope.
Navigating these two diverging mindsets – often at the same time – isn’t easy. But it is necessary if lawyers want to take full control of their projects.
“Project management calls for strategic thinking yet remaining grounded to execute on the smaller details. LPM enables practitioners to find that balance through specialised planning and monitoring techniques.”
6. Fostering a servant-leader mindset
Experienced project managers know that when others succeed, the project succeeds.
Across each LPM phase – from engaging to planning to executing to evaluating – stakeholders remain at the core. The entire process is about understanding their needs and roles and then coordinating opportunities to succeed.
Susan notes how legal project managers don’t excel by seeking credit for themselves but instead through helping others. It’s a servant-leader mindset.
Above all else, LPM is about fostering stronger client relationships and coordinating matter teams to reach shared goals together.
Gain an edge. Become LPM certified.
LPM enables lawyers and business professionals to retake control of their projects. Want to learn more?
Join Susan’s upcoming LPM Training Certification Workshop.
You will gain LPM certification and equip yourself with the LPM toolkit – a powerful set of methodologies to reduce risk, strengthen client relationships, improve results and lower costs. What’s more, you’ll also earn 12 CPD points.
“The LPM approach is simple, but not simplistic. Upskilling in LPM provides a structured framework to deliver better outcomes – for your clients and your firm.”
Learn more about the Legal Project Management Training workshop with the College of Law to become LPM certified.