Project Management for Lawyers
Barbara J Boake, Rick Kathuria
Adopt a structured approach to planning, pricing and managing legal work that will boost profitability and deliver superior value to your clients.
Project Management for Lawyers report provides a structured approach to planning, pricing and managing legal work that will boost profitability and deliver superior value to your clients. It aims to:
+ Demonstrate the value of applying project management to a legal practice;
+ Explain basic project management principles and how to apply them within your law firm;
+ Provide a simple legal project management framework; *Describe key tools and techniques to support the framework;
+ Discuss legal project management as a pricing and business development strategy;
+ Show how lawyers can manage matter profitability and demonstrate value to clients;
+ Guide lawyers in overcoming the challenges in managing a matter profitably (time, scope and cost); and,
+ Share practical advice on how to develop and implement a legal project management programme within your firm.
Real-life in-depth case studies provide valuable insight into the successful legal project management programmes of Dechert LLP, Eversheds LLP, Seyfarth Shaw LLP and McCarthy Tetrault. A case study from the Royal Bank of Canada is also included to provide the a client's perspective on the value of legal project management.
Table of Contents
|About the authors||ix|
|PART ONE Legal Project Management Best Practice – A Framework, Tools and Techniques||1|
|Chapter 1: The business case for project management||3|
|The shift in the balance of power from seller to buyer||3|
|Embracing business realities||3|
|The growth of in-house legal departments||4|
|The fragmentation of the legal services market||5|
|The increasing demand for alternative fee arrangements (AFAs)||6|
|The business case – Six compelling reasons||6|
|Chapter 2: Project management foundational principles||9|
|What is project management?||9|
|What is a project?||9|
|Project management versus process management||10|
|The triple constraints||10|
|The project sponsor||12|
|The project manager||12|
|Project management processes||13|
|The project life cycle||13|
|The importance of ‘process assets’||14|
|A few rules to live by||14|
|Chapter 3: A simple legal project management framework||17|
|Legal mandates are projects||17|
|Legal mandates have four project stages||17|
|Each project stage has two project management tasks and one project management deliverable||18|
|Your client participates at every stage of the project||18|
|A project manager’s responsibilities can be delegated||19|
|Designing a framework that works||19|
|Chapter 4: Defining a project||21|
|Establishing project objectives||21|
|A word about quality||21|
|Understanding and managing client expectations||22|
|Prioritising the triple constraints||23|
|The scope document||24|
|A project definition model||25|
|Chapter 5: Planning a project||27|
|A word about planning||27|
|Planning tasks – The work breakdown structure||28|
|Estimating costs – The certainty factor||29|
|A word about contingency||30|
|The importance of assumptions||30|
|Staffing – The benefits of mindfulness||31|
|Example of a project plan||31|
|Establishing a schedule – Understanding the critical path||31|
|Establishing a baseline – Discussing the plan with your client||34|
|Identifying and addressing risks||35|
|A planning model||37|
|Chapter 6: Project execution||39|
|Subsequent team meetings||41|
|A team meeting model||41|
|Chapter 7: Monitoring a project||43|
|Keeping projects on track||43|
|The monitoring worksheet||44|
|Monitoring with phase and/or task codes||48|
|Managing change requests||48|
|Addressing cost variances||49|
|Addressing schedule variances||50|
|Managing client expectations||51|
|The monitoring model||51|
|Chapter 8: Evaluating a project||53|
|Leveraging your work product||53|
|Exploiting process assets||53|
|Obtaining client feedback||53|
|Saving project documents||54|
|The lessons learned meeting||55|
|The evaluation model||56|
|Chapter 9: Linking project management to pricing strategies||59|
|Basic practice economics||59|
|Maximise profitability through efficiency and leverage||61|
|Chapter 10: Developing your own framework – A project plan||65|
|The project plan||66|
|Assembling a project team||68|
|Finding champions – The steering committee||68|
|The communication plan||70|
|PART TWO Case Studies||71|
|Case study 1: McCarthy Tétrault LLP – Legal project management – A strategic priority for the firm||73|
|A strategic initiative||73|
|Keeping it simple||73|
|Dialogue Project Management™||74|
|The role of the project manager||74|
|Consulting with clients||76|
|External communications – Branding||76|
|The importance of internal communication||76|
|Dialogue Project Management™ in practice||77|
|Case study 2: Dechert LLP – Developing best practice in legal project management||79|
|The six lessons learned||79|
|The value of support departments||82|
|Project management – A department in itself?||84|
|Case study 3: Eversheds LLP – Achieving certainty in cost, scope and time||87|
|Project management origins in litigation||87|
|The end result||88|
|Using project management in non-contentiouswork||89|
|The project management resources||90|
|Benefits for the client||90|
|Case study 4: Seyfarth Shaw LLP – Building an effective service delivery programme for clients||91|
|The history of the programme||91|
|Applications of ‘SeyfarthLean’||92|
|Case study 5: Royal Bank of Canada – A client’s perspective on law firm pricing||95|
|Working with external counsel to manage costs||95|
|Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs)||96|
|The right pricing model for RBC||97|
|Innovative ways of working – Using portals and ‘Lean Six Sigma’||97|
|The importance of communication||98|
|A mutually-beneficial partnership||99|
|PART THREE Appendices||101|
|Appendix 1: An asset purchase Gantt chart||103|
|Appendix 2: A generic work plan||105|
|Appendix 3: A work plan for an asset purchase||107|
|Appendix 4: A completed monitoring worksheet||109|
|Appendix 5: A sample staffing profile||111|
|Appendix 6: A sample change request form||113|
Project Management for Lawyers was written by two experts in this emerging field: Barbara Boake, a senior partner at McCarthy Tetrault, and Rick Kathuria, a certified Project Management Professional at the same firm.
The book draws on their experience developing and implementing McCarthy's Dialogue Project Management system, so it is heavy on the kinds of "lessons from the trenches" that lawyers will find invaluable. And if that's not enough, Part Two of the book includes additional case studies written by experts from Dechert, Eversheds, and Seyfarth Shaw, and one from the client perspective at the Royal Bank of Canada. And if that's still not enough, it comes with a CD filled with forms, templates and checklists, including a generic work plan, a client satisfaction review questionnaire, a project risk log, a sample staffing plan, and a sample change request form.
Chapter 1 makes the business case for project management, starting with the fact that "clients want to see a clearer link between the cost of legal services and the value of those services to their business." The authors also note that "The market has placed a premium on predictability, efficiency and cost control" and "Alternative fee arrangements pose a threat to firm profitability unless they can be priced and managed using some kind of project management framework" (p. 6-7).
But the real value of the book lies not in the why of project management, but in the hard won wisdom of how to make it work. Consider, for example, what Ben Barnett and Colleen Nihill, authors of the Dechert case study in this volume, have to say about letters of engagement (p. 79):
In the after glow and rush of a new client matter, scant attention is normally paid to defining specifically what the client has retained you to do. This oversight can haunt and even derail the entire project. Most of the problems in project management have their genesis in the failure to define.
Or consider Boake and Kathuria's step by step guidance on defining new work, including this advice (p. 35):
Review the assumptions with your client to ensure that they are fully understood. If you discover that an assumption is incorrect at the beginning of a matter, it is easily addressed with a revised plan and estimate. The same cannot be said for assumptions that are found to be incorrect at the end of a matter.
Or read the expanded version of these four "rules to live by" (p. 14):
"Project management is a tool box - choose only what you need to most effectively manage the project.
Plan now or pay late.
The simplest process is often the best.
There should be no surprises - regular and effective communication is the key to successful project management."
That is not to say that I agree with 100% of the advice in the book. For example, when it comes to estimating time and costs, they include two formulas and an extended discussion of how to use "a numerical measure of confidence known as a 'certainty factor'" (p. 29). Their sample asset purchase transaction plan (p. 32) shows how they have used certainty factors to improve time estimates for such subtasks as term sheets and due diligence. In my experience, few lawyers would be interested in, or benefit from, this type of statistical refinement. I think these particular spreadsheets and forms violate their own advice that "the simplest process is often the best."
But my objections are just minor points. Lawyers will love the specificity of the book's case studies. And the step by step examples will go a long way to helping them answer the most important question in legal project management: what should I do? There's just one more thing you need to know about this 118-page book/CD package: it costs about $470 (GBP295).
The Ark Group, in association with Managing Partner magazine has published a series of reports at this price point, including Alternative Fee Arrangements: Value Fees and the Changing Legal Market by Pat Lamb, which I reviewed last year. If you don't have the budget to buy these two books for yourself, have your firm order them for the library. Then make sure to read them as soon as they arrive.
Jim Hassett, LegalBizDev
July 13, 2011 Book review: Project management for lawyers
This report report is a compilation of knowledge, best practices and lessons learned by two individuals with different but complementary backgrounds.
Barbara Boake is a senior partner at McCarthy Tetrault LLP, practising in the areas of bankruptcy, insolvency and restructuring. With over 20 years of practice experience and having served on her firm's board of partners and its executive team, Barbara was named one of the 'Top 100 Most Powerful Women' in Canada by the Women's Executive Network. While a member of her firm's executive team she was responsible for leading the development and implementation of the firm's 'Dialogue Project ManagementA" programme. Barbara speaks regularly on all aspects of project management for the legal profession.
Rick Kathuria is a professional engineer, certified management consultant and a certified project management professional with over 15 years of experience working on large international projects at top tier consulting firms, before starting his own consulting firm. His projects included managing multimillion dollar projects internationally, as well as the implementation of internal project management offices for several of his clients. He also serves in a leadership role in operating the Project Management Institute's 'Legal Project Management Community of Practice'. He has been working with McCarthy Tetrault LLP as head of its IT development group and director of its project management office, where he oversees major implementation projects. He has spent the last few years working with senior partners of the firm to develop project management training and he designed the tools that they are currently using. In this capacity, he was also responsible for delivering training to lawyers and providing ongoing coaching to help them effectively project manage their legal mandates. Both authors began with a blank slate and created a legal project management programme that is changing the way the firm's lawyers plan, price and deliver legal work. This report is a guide through this challenging, but very rewarding process.