Legal Project Management for Corporate Legal Departments

     Business leaders and boards are increasingly expecting Legal to run like Finance or Operations.  Like these other departments, legal is rarely viewed as a profit center; however, legal serves a critical role in managing risk and facilitating business activity.  So how can you demonstrate this value, justify your budget, and keep the board happy?  Legal project management (“LPM“) is a foundational element in answering these questions.  

    Departments have historically been designed around “reactivelawyering or “firefighting.”  From the first in-house hire to the newest outside counsel relationship, resources are generally allocated today to problems that need to be solved yesterday.  Breaking out of this reactive cycle starts by applying project management principles.

    Loosely speaking, project management is the practice of breaking defined goals down into clear units of work.  From the moment that staff or outside counsel becomes involved in a matter, facts about work are generated – which business unit originated the matter or transaction, to whom was the matter was assigned, what was the duration, effort, and cost of the matter, and how was the matter resolved?  If these facts are recorded at all, they are typically unstructured and spread across multiple data sources.  Legal project management begins by recording these facts in an accessible and consistent manner, allowing the department to understand and communicate on its work, staff, service providers, and outside counsel.

Sample Gantt chart for Legal Project Management

Gantt chart for M&A Acquisition Project

    There are many ways to develop a legal project management capability, including approaches like Agile and software like SharePoint.  At LexPredict, we take an agnostic approach.  We work with you to devise and execute on the right plan, not necessarily a cookie-cutter plan.  Are you interested in Agile or Kanban for Law? Trainers and legal project managers can help educate and implement. Do you want to implement SharePoint or JIRA? Technology consultants can configure systems to match your processes.  What if you are still building consensus around the need for project management?  Communication and thought leadership services can help you produce high-quality, persuasive material.  Legal project management for corporate departments requires a broad set of skills, and  we have the resources to meet your needs.

      The goal, however, isn’t just to implement a process or technology; it’s to increase the value you can deliver to your organization and to clearly communicate this value to your C-suite peers and board. In many cases, organizations see substantial improvements in the quality and efficiency of their work or the morale of their staff. And even if you’re already running a perfectly-oiled machine, legal project management can explain budgets, justify litigation or risk management strategies, and contextualize trends against underlying business dynamics.

    If legal project management sounds like a good fit for your legal department, please let us know; your first consultation is free.