It’s no secret that running a successful law firm has grown more challenging in recent years. Among the changes that are here to stay, more than 95.4% of law firm leaders cite intensified price competition, 93.3% cite the need for greater efficiency and 88.2% say firms will have to operate with fewer support staff, according to Altman Weil’s 2016 “Law Firms in Transition Survey.” And just 7.6% of respondents were highly confident that their firms are prepared to meet these and other challenges.
In such an environment, any competitive edge helps. That’s one reason law firms are borrowing a page from other industries, adopting formal “project management” systems.
While the term “project management” may sound like something better suited to construction or manufacturing than the art of law, the Project Management Institute outlines five basic steps that can help keep any creative effort on track:
According to an American Bar Association’s Law Practice Today blog, legal project management can help small and midsize law firms more accurately estimate their costs and deliver their services more efficiently and reliably.Many firms are even hiring full-time legal project managers who specialize in making sure client cases run efficiently from start to finish. These managers may or may not be lawyers, though knowledge of how lawyers and firms operate is essential. The key is to have an experienced manager who can keep the trains running on time, and who also respects the expertise of attorneys and recognizes that no two cases are identical.
Limiting the Guesswork
While specific systems may vary from firm to firm, legal project management strives to take some of the guesswork out of estimating the cost of a given project, using preset metrics to assess the size of the project, the dates, the staff needed to complete it and other factors.
Regardless of the specific structure of your project management plan, a key component is follow-up. Reviewing both the individual case and your processes can help you determine what aspects of the project worked well, and what may need tweaking for greater efficiency.
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