Back to my first client above, when I was briefed on the engagement by the Managing Partner he outlined the following challenges -
- new lawyers were not meeting delivery timeframes
- junior lawyers were spending far too long on basic activities
- write-offs were higher than acceptable
- all Partners were overwhelmed, leaving little time for supervision
Over a period of several months, I provided introductory Legal Project Management for all fee earners and paralegals that consisted of short theory sessions covering - Matter Scoping; Matter Costing; Matter Scheduling; and Matter Resourcing. During this time I conducted several one-on-one coaching for all fee earners to identify the key Legal Project Management concepts and tools that would be most beneficial. I then worked with senior lawyers to tailor these tools for their specific matters, clients, and preferences.
Finally, I conducted follow-up sessions with each Partner to review progress with the adoption of LPM and to discuss recommendations for changes to their individual supervision approaches that would best support their teams and resolve the challenges outlined in my engagement. They still remind me of the breakthroughs they achieved by adopting some of the basic tips that I gave them in those sessions!
The two favourite tips are - 1. when you assign a piece of work to a junior lawyer always indicate how long you expect it to take and when they should check in with you for a progress update and receive further guidance, and 2. always share the letter of engagement with the entire team and brief them to ensure alignment around the approach to the matter and expectations of the client.
Several years later when I came in for the annual refresher workshops, I received the incredible news that two of the senior lawyers that I had worked with initially had gone on to become advocates for LPM within the firm and had recently been promoted to partner. The specific situation that led to the promotions was as follows...
One January there was a totally unexpected doubling of volumes of matters. The lawyers who had successfully adopted LPM were able to handle the increased volumes with ease. They still put in some extra hours but they were organised, planned their workload, and were calm in their approach. Never missing any critical client delivery. That's such a great endorsement for the power of Legal Project Management!
It is also interesting that shortly after this, the firm was able to survive the loss of several non-performers with no impact on client outcomes. These non-performers had continued to push back on the LPM ways of working that were favoured in the firm. So, can you afford NOT to understand and adopt Legal Project Management?