It comes as no surprise that legal project management is a hot topic. What did surprise me was the emphasis it got in the recent 2010 ACC/Serengeti Managing Outside Counsel Survey Report released last week. The summary/press release I saw mentioned project management or matter management 12 times.
“Controlling spending on outside counsel remains the top priority for in-house counsel,” is the lead in. It goes on to say under highlights of the key findings:
“As controlling law firm costs has continued to grow as a top priority for corporate clients, in-house counsel are now requiring project management techniques and systems to obtain better value from firms, even as a condition for hiring and retaining them.” (emphasis mine)
Therein lies the marketing potential for those law firms that adopt legal project management techniques early on. So, what does LPM entail? In a nutshell, it involves:
- Laying out the scope and tasks required in handling a matter in collaboration with the client;
- Identifying specific tasks to be completed and by whom;
- Planning and managing a budget throughout the process; and
- Managing the quality, process, risks and changes while keeping the client informed.
It should be obvious that such management tools will help your firm be more efficient and provide greater value to the client. The end result, if this is all explained to clients and prospective clients upfront, is that your firm will be the one hired and retained over the competition.
P.S. A brief summary of the other highlights of the survey can be found either in the link above or in the Financial Post.