Project Management Tips for Lawyers
By Monique Goodyer
Undoubtedly, as lawyers, you will sometimes feel inundated with pressure from the amount of work on your plate. From meeting your billable hours to planning your client meetings and attending court whilst multi-tasking several matters – it is no surprise that these days, project management is an essential skill that lawyers must attain.
Successful legal project management skills are now being recognized, as an indispensable tool in the legal field as it will assist lawyers to provide more reliable fee estimates, better matter management and result in better value to your clients and improved profitability to the firm. Here are some project management tips for lawyers:
Firstly step back and break down the project
Managing a team of lawyers is not easy. Neither is approaching an immense project in which you need to drive this team of lawyers. It is essential for lawyers these days to plan and set out the scope of work involved in a project. Clearly delegate and communicate to your team their roles and follow these simple stages:
- Define the project
Before you start a project, you must understand the entire scope of it – including the client’s goals, objectives and deliverables. It is essential to understand the project’s goals from the client’s perspective as much as your own.
Plan the project
From defining the project, you should have compiled a list of purposes and objectives. Understand what success will look like for the project and assess the actual feasibility of these results. Next, list all the work needed to be completed and understand the skills of your team that will be necessary. Prepare the project schedule and estimate its costs and any risks associated with the project. Ensure you understand how to manage those risks.
Launch the project
From your project plan, select who will be part of your team and communicate with them individually regarding the project scope and objectives. Ensure all parties are comfortable and clear on the purpose of the project. Hold a kick off meeting and start your project.
Monitor the Progress & Execute
As a legal project manager, you must carefully monitor your team’s performance and keep up to date with the status of their billables and expenses. Ensure they are executing their goals and that they are staying on track in terms of time. If needed, develop progress reports and make sure to be transparent with your client by keeping them informed.
Evaluate the Project
Once the project has been executed, it is invaluable that you as a legal project manager step back and evaluate the process and results of your project. Learn from the mistakes and accomplishments so you are more efficient and effective next time.
Know the ins and outs of your Project Management Software
Finally, ensure that you understand how to effectively utilize and execute your firm’s chosen project management software. Use it to your advantage by setting reminders and monitor your objectives to your project plan. Track your billable hours across your team and assemble progress reports to give the client a transparent view on how the project is tracking.
Effective legal project management skills can result in more reliable fee estimates, better matter management and improved matter profitability. This in turn will deliver better value to your clients, improved work management and firm growth for the future.
Monique Goodyer is a Legal Project Manager at Monaco Solicitors (http://www.monacosolicitors.com.au/), an Australian based law firm.