Kennedy-Mighell Report

Lawyers as Project Managers


It’s what you do with the technology after you get it that really matters. A hot area these days in legal technology is the use of technology for project management, especially in e-discovery. But e-discovery is not the only place we’re seeing project management discussions. In this episode, co-hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell take a look at the impact project management concerns will play in technology choices, the evolution of legal project management skills and practices, and the increasing role project management is already playing in the practice of law.  After you listen, be sure to check out Tom & Dennis’ co-blog and book by the same name, The Lawyers Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies.

Special thanks to our sponsor, Clio.

>Show Notes Wiki

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  • Chris Wilen

    Great analysis guys.

    I’ve noticed the same trend in law firms starting to see the value in and employ professional project managers. Corporations are sold on role already and many firms are starting to follow by realizing that project management is not just a set of responsibilities, but a formal role in the organization. One of the largest challenges I’ve seen, however, is in the ability for law firm project managers to remain dedicated to a project. It isn’t uncommon for these individuals to be quickly pulled off a project and moved to a new project without time to formally close or transition the original project. For that reason, the value of the role must be understood throughout all levels of the organization.

    I agree in the difference between case / matter management and project management. While there are certainly similar aspects, a different set of skills are useful. Lawyers are definitely not, by default, project managers. While there are inherently certain skill sets related to communication and organization that indicate potential, formal project management training should not be skipped over. An untrained project manager may reach the desired results in terms of scope, budget, and schedule, but some of the benefits of formal project management are lost when fundamentals surrounding project closing are skipped, for example. On the other hand, lawyers and other legal professionals who are also formally trained in project management will bring additional benefit to a project over a more traditional IT or business-function PM. Lawyers, for example, quickly see the tie between the project management fundamentals of quality and risk and the defensibility of legal tasks and processes. Documentation may have a different set of requirements in a legal project and while many of the fundamentals can still be applied, litigation is a different kind of beast. Finally, multiple projects may feed into case management. While I may look at the e-discovery portion of litigation as a complete project, it is simply a piece of the larger picture and from a resource perspective, you need to be certain that the correct resources are focused on the the tasks where they will be most effective throughout that larger picture.

  • PM Hut

    It seems that the interest in legal project management is sustained and increasing. I think soon there will be project management certification (maybe issued by PMI) adapted to legal project managers. I did publish an excellent article on the subject of legal pm (you can find it here). Hope your readers will find it useful…