Although there is a tendency to jump right into it new matter as soon as the client gives the go-ahead, that is the wrong thing to do. Not only from the standpoint of adequately serving the client and meeting client expectations, but it could end up being a financial disaster for the law firm (Read: client imposed discount/lower realization rate).
Patrick Lamb had a post on Legal Rebels this month that talks about a two-day program at which in-house and outside counsel addressed what each interprets their job to be in a legal relationship. He then provides a number of bullets on what “some of the notes on the ideal future state from the inside counsel group” viewpoint included.
It struck me that the highlights of the two-day program covered by Lamb in his post were really all about project management. My colleague Jim Hassett, founder and president of LegalBizDev, has written the definitive book (3rd edition will be out next month) on the eight key issues that comprise legal project management.
So, what does the future look like? Some of the points mentioned by Lamb are in quotes (with Hassett’s relevant key issues in parentheses):
- “Detailed, succinct quality communications” (7. Manage client communication and expectations);
- “Never having to review a bill/agreed fee and terms” (1. Set objectives and define scope, 4. Plan and manage the budget);
- “Managing to a number” (3. Assign tasks and manage the team, 4. Plan and manage the budget));
- “Both sides have skin in the game” (5. Assess risks [to client and firm] to budget and schedule);
- “Outside lawyers understand what risks client is willing to except” (5. Assess risks to budget and schedule);
- “Syncing legal approach with business perspective” (1. Set objectives and define scope).
The inside and outside counsel discussion mentioned by Lamb emphasized the importance of better planning, budgeting, execution and communications in their relationship. Legal project management clearly can do just that to improve the attorney-client relationship.
Food for thought.