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Legal Project Management Principles and Best Practices: Part 3 of 3

23
Apr

A majority of the law firms quickly discover that only implementing new project management principles and steps are not enough to meet the new demands of their client.  True success comes through refining the culture and practices throughout the organization.  Legal Project Management (LPM) provides guidelines and principles that can bring discipline to a project.  Clients are not asking for more discipline or even a more formal process; Clients are demanding lower costs and better control over this projects.  So, how can Firms truly implement change in their people and in their overall organization?  The kind of change that can drive long term productivity, process improvements, and true efficiency. Law Firms must start by reviewing their current staff processes and practices to respond to the needs of their clients.  Next, Law Firms should assess the steps, timeframes, resources, and approvals needed for each of these processes.  By understanding the path it takes to complete a task and comparing the process to the requests/expectations of their clients, Law Firms can gain a better understanding where possible improvements need to occur.  Changing the internal processes and culture of an organization is not easy and will take time for all parties to adopt these changes. Change managementtakes time and should be well designed and implemented in a phased approach.  Process improvements also require training of the staff on these new processes to help them see the value and to embrace the new way of operating.

Process improvements are only part of the solution.  Law Firms that benefit the most out of Legal Project Management also implement Legal Project Management aligned technical solutions to assist with the management and tracking of all of the data points that are important to make Legal Project Management a success.  These Legal Project Management solutions include modules for:

  • New Matter Intake
  • Matter Search
  • Document Management
  • Matter Planning
  • Scheduling
  • Resourcing
  • Budgeting, and more…

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These Legal Project Management applications can help to reinforce consistent steps and outcomes for each stage of the overall LPM process.  This can help Firms provide a more consistent delivery approach across different offices and regardless of the team assign to the project. Legal Project Management solutions are designed to to work as an extension of the project management processes.  The LPM modules will help to gather the data for the milestones and budgets, and will help guide the team through each stage of the process.  IN most cases, Legal Project Management solutions are Portals so they also offer robust tools for document management, shared calendaring, task management, eDiscovery, and search.  The section below highlights several LPM features that have helped other Law Firms to change they way they operate and provide services to their clients:

First, many LLegal Project Management PM solutions include a module for New Matter Intake.  New Matter Intake provides the ability to streamline the steps for onboarding a new client.  In many cases, Law Firms track client information and project related information in multiple systems.  This causes inefficiencies by duplicating the entry of this data and an even bigger challenge to update this information across all the different systems when the client data changes (as it always does).  By managing client information in this central open repository, other systems like Accounting, Time and Billing, Document Management, etc. can pull the client data directly from a single repository.  Thus eliminating the need for duplicate entry.  By consolidating Client data in a single system, Lawyers can view calendars and lists showing all of their clients and matters in one central location.

Second, LPM solutions also include a module to provide a more streamlined process for building the Matter Plan.  The Matter Plan Builder is a tool to define and manage the requested milestones, task, sub tasks, dates, hours, and budgets for each component of a new matter (or project).  This modules provides an easy to use set of forms to define the major milestones for a new matter.  Next, the Matter Plan Builder provides the ability to define the different tasks and sub-tasks for each milestone.  The tool will help automate the dependencies and predecessors for each task.  The module will also collect the dates, hours, resources, and budget for each task and sub-task. The Legal Project Management system will use this detail to create a central matter site so different team members can view the overall project plan, milestones and deliverable dates, and the level of effort down to the sub-task.  The Legal Project Management system will also utilize the data entered to create web-based calendars using SharePoint or Office 365 so team members can easily view important deadlines and their specific due dates.  The views can be configured to show the dates for a single matter or can roll-up dates across different matters.  The system also has views for an attorney to show all of the important dates across multiple clients as well as different matters.  This allows an attorney to plan their day and week based on all of the tasks or deliverables assigned to them.  The system will send out reminders for upcoming milestones and delivery dates based on project timelines and templates that can be set up in advance.

We hoped you enjoyed this brief conversation about Legal Project Management. You can reference the two previous blog posts: Legal Project Management Overview: Part 1 of 3 and Legal Project Management Solution using SharePoint and Office 365: Part 2 of 3.

– i3solutions