By default, many paralegal professionals serve as project managers, keeping cases on track and knowing when the next filing is due. But is traditional, linear project management best for all cases?
Agile project management has been around in other business sectors for 20 years, but the legal field has been cautious and slow to adopt.
Guest Alicia Mitchell-Mercer is an expert in applying the modern Agile project management philosophy to legal cases and how the Scrum processes fit. Scrum team? Product owner? ScrumMaster? If you’ve been curious, even baffled, by these terms, you won’t get a better 30-minute introduction. Learn how modern project management fits today’s legal needs.
From start to finish, Agile project management can help track legal projects and review results, then apply lessons learned to future projects. Mitchell-Mercer explains how applying these principles could help your firm work more efficiently, improve outcomes, and better serve clients. As a bonus, there isn’t a high barrier to entry for ScrumMaster certification (and it could add to your personal market value).
Plus, some insights on how COVID’s push to remote meetings has changed, perhaps forever, legal project management.
Special thanks to our sponsors NALA, ServeNow, and InfoTrack.
Jill Francisco: Before we begin today, we’d like to thank our sponsors; ServeNow, NALA and InfoTrack.
Jill Francisco: Hello everyone. Thank you for joining me for another exciting and informative episode of The Paralegal Voice on the Legal Talk Network. I’m Jill Francisco, an advanced certified paralegal, immediate past president of NALA and your host of this episode of The Paralegal Voice. I have over 25 years of a paralegal experience and I am so super excited to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for the paralegal profession with you.
I am also super excited today to have Alicia Mitchell-Mercer, ACP, RP with me today. She has an extensive resume but I’m not going to read it all to you. I want you to have the most time as possible to get some very valuable and soak in all her knowledge and the useful information that she’s going to share with us today. So anyway, I am like I said, I’m so excited to have her today as my guest. Alicia, welcome to the show.
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Thank you, Jill for having me.
Jill Francisco: So we’re not going to really waste any time. We’re going to kind of get right into it because this subject that I ask Alicia on to talk about, I mean, I personally needed to know about it. I heard some terminology and heard some terms thrown around and I really didn’t understand it. And so, I thought well, maybe there’s a couple other paralegals out there that would also enjoy and have some useful information on this. So anyway, Alicia, let’s get right into it. If you want to explain though a little bit before we start about your background and your experience and your specialty because I know you have awesome background and experience.
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Thank you Jill. So I guess I’ll just stick to the information that’s pertinent to the legal project management and kind of what I’m doing with that right now. So, I’ve been a litigation paralegal for about 20 years. I’ve been a legal project manager since 2012. I have a bachelor of science in paralegal studies and a master’s in project management and I’m pursuing a doctorate in public administration. I work for the Lex Project Consulting Group as director of project management and we offer project management office and legal project management consulting services. I’m certified by NALA, NFPA, the South Carolina Bar and the North Carolina State Bar and I have project management certifications from the Project Management Institute. I’m a certified Scrum Master from the Scrum Alliance and a legal project practitioner from the International Institute of Legal Project Management.
So, as you can see, I’ve really picked up a love for learning about project management over the years because I went after all of this certifications. I’m always like happy to just learn more about how I can bring value added to the cases and matters that I’m working on.
Jill Francisco: And I think it’s neat too because they’re — I have to kind of tell our listeners a little something funny. So, tried to do this show a week ago and I had a little technical difficulties also known as storm and all of a sudden no Wi-Fi, so obviously no show. So Alicia and I got a chance to kind of talk a little bit more. We talked that day and she really, in a very short amount of time, kind of educated me. You gave me like the down-and-dirty of the project management. And I really think now, when you talk about all those certifications, what comes to my mind now is like you said. You just really have — they’re different. I mean, obviously, they’re all different. They all are different skills and different things that you’ve learned and I think that’s awesome because of what you’re able to offer, it’s very well-rounded. You kind of have covered all the bases.
So, it’s not just another initial I think that you’re putting behind your name which is obviously an accomplishment but I think it’s really a whole other skillset that you’re able to offer in a different thing and realm within the project management and obviously help your clients and who you’re trying to get organized. But I really liked when you were telling me and you kind of broke it down in the beginning. What is the traditional project management and then how is it different from where you were telling me the Agile project management?
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Okay. Well, I usually start by explaining that. I think we all are kind of project managers. Paralegals are definitely managing their cases and their matters. But when we talk about traditional project management, we are usually talking about the Project Management Institute and their methodology, the traditional or waterfall approach to managing projects. So, it’s a little bit different structure because there are like 10 knowledge areas and five process groups. You have the planning or you have the initiating of the planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and then you get to the closing process. And then you have these 49 processes that you kind of run through. And so, as you can imagine that’s a pretty prescriptive and structured way of managing a project that is traditional project management. It works very well for things like construction and very complex litigation projects and things like that.
Jill Francisco: I like to call it, “stay in your lane.”
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Yes.
Jill Francisco: After you’ve come to taught me a little bit totally newbie novice but I feel like that’s the “stay in your lane approach.”
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Yeah. Well, you know, it’s definitely takes a little while to learn about it but I think once you pick it up, it’s not really that difficult. It’s probably harder to perfect than it is to learn from the beginning for sure.
Jill Francisco: Okay. So then you also, like I said, then you have the Agile approach. What’s that a little bit about?
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Sure. So Agile is really about trying to be more people centric rather than process centric. So when you think about Agile, it’s more of a lightweight framework. It’s not so prescriptive. There’s no technology areas or process groups or anything like that. There is a light weight cycle that you kind of run your projects through but it’s just not as prescriptive. Agile comes from software developers. I think they created Agile in probably 2000. And I’d say probably 70% of the Fortune 500 companies are using it today. So it’s just kind of an umbrella term for — Agile is more of a philosophy than it is a framework, but then we have Scrum which is a framework under the Agile umbrella.
Jill Francisco: Yeah, and why don’t you tell — I know it’s so funny. That is really what kind of perk my ears up when you talk about this Scrum Master and all the stuff. I was like, “Wow, that’s like new terminology.” It was totally not familiar. I wasn’t familiar with that term at all and so, that’s what kind of started like I said, perked my ears up and then maybe do a little googling, you know how we do, and try to figure it out and I was like, “Okay I’ve heard about this.” Like I said, I’m familiar with all, a few of your accomplishments and the things you’re into and I knew that you were my girl to talk about this. So why don’t you talk about that then as it compares to and fits in with all this, the Scrum philosophy and things.
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Okay. So, as I was saying, Scrum is a framework that fits under kind of the Agile umbrella. There are several different kinds of Agile, kind of methods of running your projects. Scrum is the most popular one as I told you and Scrum has its own kind of philosophy, right? So you start off learning about the values because like I said, this is a more people centric way of running projects. So we start talking about things like courage and respect and commitment and focus and openness. And that’s just trying to get more team cohesiveness getting the team to work together better because the belief is that, if you can get the team to really buy into each other then that’s going to show up in the productivity of the project and it’s going to make it just be more camaraderie. There’s going to be just kind of the team cohesiveness that we’re looking for.
Jill Francisco: Well, let me ask you this because of course we always bring up COVID. But like, do you think — because I’m sure you use both methods or even I think as we talked about a combination of both methods and the things that you are currently doing — because you’re talking about like the cohesiveness and the meetings and like you said, the camaraderie and the bonding I assume, like you said getting to know each other and stuff like that. How is like the COVID all that stuff like Zoom? Have you just kind of done what we’re all doing virtually? Does it affect it or does it actually make you go in another direction or use another tactic from a way that you would have done it if you could have been in person I guess what I’m trying to say?
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Sure. So I think that the Agile kind of way of doing things, they prefer in person, right, because again, it’s very people-centric. They want you face to face but we do have to pivot because of COVID so a lot of Scrum teams and Agile teams are being run virtually for sure.
Jill Francisco: And you think it cuts down on it? I mean it’s still effective and everybody’s just doing the best they can do?
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: I think that it’s still effective. I mean, with the advance of things like Zoom and RingCentral and GoToMeeting and things like that, I think you still kind of can do the face to face. There may be as a little bit lost. I don’t think it’s quite the same as having your team collocated but I do still think that people are still running Scrum and they’re still being successful in their projects. I think when you think about things like we’ve got these — and part of the philosophy is the Scrum pillars when we’re talking about transparency and adaptation and inspection. The virtual meeting still allow for all of those things. They still allowed us to inspect our work product. We can still adapt and be very Agile in the way that we handle projects. There’s still transparency because now with the Google Docs and the Office systems, you can see pretty much everything that you need to do online.
Jill Francisco: Good. So almost then, it’s probably like maybe even utilizing some of that technology just like you said. I always laugh and tell the story. We could have been using Zoom all along and talking to our friends and everybody that was all over the country but we just didn’t and now it’s like we are forced to do it.
I think now it’s like, “Oh, it’s not that bad.” Do you think it’s changed the way the project management — like I said opened eyes? I always use it as an example. I’m in litigation and I think it’s opened up a lot of clients’ eyes and the law firms about efficiency and effectiveness of doing remote whatever you want to call it, remote, virtual mediations, remote depositions, things like that.
And I’m not so sure that I’ll ever go back because how are you going to, as a law firm, convince a client, “Okay, we could do that a few months ago for $500 and now we’re going to bring 10 people in person and travel half across the country, it’s going to be $10,000.” How are you going to do that? How are you going to convince them? So do you think there’s been some changes to your processes like that like it’s not necessarily going to go back like some things they’ve figured out that they’re okay to do and are effective virtually?
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Well to some extent, I agree with you. I don’t think that we’re ever going to go back to the way that things were. I mean, there are a lot of great things that kind of, the silver lining I guess that came out of COVID where now that everyone is using Zoom and all these other different platforms, you kind of have more involvement of your stakeholders of your clients. You have different ways that your clients can be communicating with you. It used to be a phone call if they couldn’t physically come into the office and now at least you have the benefit of being able to see them face to face if that’s what you want to do.
And if you’re working in corporate, I mean, the same thing with your stakeholders. You might have executives or upper management or a board of directors or whoever it is that you need to be communicating with in your position. This is just a great way to make sure that we’re still able to do that especially if you’re working for a firm that’s kind of spread out in different areas.
Jill Francisco: Oh, yeah, that’s true. Across the country, you can bring in all team members that aren’t necessarily like same client or same whatever but not in the same office so to speak. Okay. Well, Alicia, we need to pause to take a commercial break. So we will be right back.
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Jill Francisco: Welcome back to The Paralegal Voice. I’m Jill Francisco and my guest today is Alicia Mitchell-Mercer and we are discussing project management and some different platforms that she is very knowledgeable about and certified in. And so, we were just kind of talking about the Scrum philosophy and we’re kind of wrapping that up before we had to take a break. And so, I want to get back into that because it’s super interesting and I think it’s something that hopefully if you’re just kind of on the edge, maybe this is something that you’d be interested, paralegals would be interested in doing.
So, like I said, we talked about the philosophy a little bit and so, I really like to get into the Scrum and the framework where we start talking about the roles and things like that. So Alicia, can you start telling us a little bit about that because it’s super interesting?
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Sure. So in Scrum, you have a Scrum team and there’s three roles that make up a Scrum team. So you have the product owner and if you think about it, the product owner is going to be the attorney because they’re going to be the ones that are responsible for the work product, right? So they own kind of the production of the work.
And then you have the Scrum Master and that always sounds like a really interesting role because Scrum Master makes it sound like you’re actually in charge of something but touché, you’re actually a servant leader. You’re actually the master of Scrum. You’re not the master of any person. So you’re just kind of there as a facilitator and a catalyst to make sure that the team is getting things done. And then you have the developers and that is just the team that’s actually cranking out that work product. So that’s going to be paralegals, maybe some associate attorneys, things of that nature. So that’s going to make up your Scrum team in the legal services field.
Jill Francisco: That’s awesome that you said that because like I said, it does sound like super fancy and like you said like the master of all. And you get all excited and then you’re like, “Oh, well, really that just means I’m the master of what I’m certified in and I need to be knowing what I need to do.”
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Right, exactly.
Jill Francisco: So then that leads us in to the Scrum life cycle. And so, I want to really know about that too and discuss that with you. So how about getting that kind of laid out for our listeners?
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Okay. So first, when you go into the Scrum framework, you’re going to start talking about your product backlog. So your product backlog, when you think about if you’re putting together a case or whether you’re putting together a project in a corporate setting, your product backlog is just going to be a list of all of the tasks or the deliverables that you need to do for the entire case or matter. Okay? And so, this is kind of the one document that you’re going to be going to, to look at to see what work you need to do.
Now, on the product backlog, you’re going to be prioritizing these items which we call product backlog items. You’re going to be prioritizing these tasks by urgency, how quickly they need to get done. And then you’re also going to assign them a time that it takes to complete them so you get into a little bit of time estimating which we would cover at a different time. But then you also are going to sign a cost. You’re going to put the client’s name and then you’re going to assign a deadline for that particular task so that you can make sure you can sort it by urgency.
After you do that, you start going into some Sprint planning and so, in Scrum, you are doing basically one to four weeks Sprint. So, the Sprints is the time box in which you can do the work. When I was trying to explain earlier that one of the differences between traditional project management and Scrum is that, in traditional project management, you do all this upfront planning and then you do all of the executing and then you close out your project. In Agile project management or Scrum, you are doing a little bit of planning, a little bit of executing, a little bit of planning, a little bit of executing. So it’s more of an iterative or incremental approach to doing the work.
When you get into the Sprint planning, what you’re doing is, you’re looking at that product backlog. Remember, it’s a list of all the things that you need to get done for your case or your matter and you’re just trying to figure out what can I pull into the Sprint? What can I accomplish in the next one to four weeks? So that’s your time box for the Sprint.
Jill Francisco: Okay. I love that little about it because I feel like it also — I think you were telling me earlier, and you can correct me if I’m wrong. And like I said in my research, which wasn’t very good, you were mostly my educator in this, but like I like it because I think we talked about how it’s a little bit more flexible. If you’re a paralegal and you know how paralegals have to be and we all know how things change like you sit down even just in regular litigation, you get a case in, you kind of strategize about it, you kind of think this is how it’s going to go and how you’re going to respond and what defense you’re going to do or how you’re going to work it up. And then all of a sudden, one thing happens and it totally changes everything. And so, why don’t you tell me about how Scrum has a little bit, that allows for some of that?
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Yeah. So you want to determine how long you want your Sprints to be, right? If you’re doing one week Sprints which is something you might want to do if you’re working in litigation and there’s just a lot of pivoting that you have to do and that way you can do some planning for that week and then do the other things in the Scrum framework at the end and then start playing again for the next week. And so, that lets you be a little bit more Agile if you will. It lets you adopt a little bit more compared to the other traditional approach of doing the project management.
Jill Francisco: Okay, and like I said, I think we were talking about — it’s funny because when you were telling me and breaking this all down to me and how it kind of went, it was like I loved it. You kind of went through like a little bit of an example and you kind of fit the examples into the steps that you were doing. Do you remember that when you were telling me about that?
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Yeah, I do.
Jill Francisco: Because that’s really cool to identify. I think if you have a paralegal out there and they have these set of issues or whatever, it’s like it kind of really opens the eyes about, “Oh, well, this is something practical” this method, the Scrum that they should may be look into because it seemed like to me, it would really be helpful to them. So that was cool, if you can bring up that again.
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Sure. So once you’ve got the things that you want to work on the next one to four weeks, you end up creating something called a Sprint backlog. That’s just the subset of the product backlog. It’s all the tasks that you’re going to try to get accomplish in the next one to four weeks. Probably the most beneficial part of the Scrum framework is what I’m going to talk about next which is the Daily Scrum. I think that’s what you were kind of referring to.
Jill Francisco: Yes, I love that.
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Yeah. So the Daily Scrum is a 15-minute planning meeting that you would have at a set time every day and you really want to have it at a set time in a set place so that people aren’t scrambling around trying to figure out where they’re going to meet every day. But it’s 15 minutes. You’re going to stand up together as a group and you’re kind of going to do a round robin and you’re just going to ask three questions. Really you’re just asking, “What did you accomplish yesterday? What are you going to accomplish today? And do you have any impediments in your way?” We call it yesterday, today and what’s in my way for short. And so, during this meeting, everyone is just going to be very transparent about the things that are going on. It just helps the right hand know what the left hand is doing.
It also helps the team know if anyone’s running into any trouble and they need help. And the Scrum Master is there actually to facilitate that meeting because one of the responsibilities of the Scrum Master is to remove impediments. So, if they hear that a team member is struggling with technology or they’re having other kinds of difficulties then they can work with that team member after that meeting to help remove some of those impediments.
Jill Francisco: Okay, and that’s also the time. Like I said, I think those little meetings, it’s like sometimes when you hear like having a daily meeting, you kind of panic but I think like you said, I assume you could do the same time, the same place. It’s kind of like same time, same place, same channel.
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Right.
Jill Francisco: And it’s quick. I think you said that it’s like, if it’s needed, if there’s something that comes up in there, you can branch off but it’s not within your little timeframe. Right?
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Right. So the 15 minutes is really just supposed to be again about the yesterday, today and what’s in my way. So the Scrum Master’s job is to make sure that everyone is staying on topic. For example, you and I are in a Scrum meeting and you and I are just talking about what we want to talk about, the Scrum Master is there to redirect us and make sure that any conversations that aren’t pertinent to that yesterday, today and what’s in my way question gets put on the parking lot so those people can discuss it later.
So the goal is to never ever, ever, go over the 15 minutes. And this really gets a wave from kind of the drudgery of doing those like really lengthy status conferences where you have to sit in an office for a long period of time and you’re just talking about all your cases. Doing things with a Daily Scrum it’s kind of like rapid feedback, it’s collaboration. Everyone knows what everyone’s doing. You can go update your spreadsheets or your client statuses in real time and then keep it moving.
Jill Francisco: Yeah. And the thing that I really like about doing that too really like got me thinking is you will also stop issues right away.
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Right.
Jill Francisco: You don’t waste a lot of time. I’m sure you don’t like to waste time either and it’s like you don’t want to waste anybody’s time going down the wrong path or having an issue and then you’re just kind of like you said, it’s festering because we don’t have our meeting until a week from now or something so then it just waste more time. So I love that part about it and I really think, like you said, I think that would make somebody like if they weren’t really using this method or didn’t really know about this method, that to me is something like I think they would kind of have their ears perk up so to speak and think, “Wow, I maybe need to learn a little bit about that.” So Alicia, we got to take another break and then we’ll be right back.
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Jill Francisco: Welcome back to The Paralegal Voice. I’m Jill Francisco and my guest today Alicia Mitchell-Mercer and we were talking about the Scrum life cycle and we are getting our way through it. We had the beginning, we had the middle, we were talking about the awesome Sprint meetings that I think are very beneficial. It makes me want to have those meetings instead of those long weekly, every other week something meetings. So we kind of come that far so then how do we wrap this up in the Scrum life cycle?
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Sure. So you recall that we started with the product backlog. We went the Sprint planning, we did the Sprint backlog, we are doing our Daily Scrums and now we are getting to the end of our Sprint, our one to four weeks, and we end up with something called the Increment. I don’t know why Scrum uses all of these kind of terms but Increment just means work product. The interesting thing about the way that they describe the Increment is that, it has to meet the definition of done. And this is really important because I find that sometimes we don’t always understand as paralegals when something is complete. And I feel like balls kind of get dropped.
So for example, if you have ever seen someone or been in a situation where a motion was filed, you’re like did that motion get done? Well yes it’s done but did we get a hearing date on it?
Did we send out a notice of hearing? Did we let the client know? Are we prepared? And so, you have to make sure that you are on the same page with that definition of done so that those kind of balls aren’t getting dropped.
So you have that product Increment and then once you are finished that you’ve done for that Sprint, you’re going to go into one of the last two meetings which is called your Sprint Review. So your Sprint Review is just where you’re siting with your client or clients and going over the finished work product for that week or if it’s a four-week Sprint then that four weeks and your client’s just going to be inspecting it to make sure that they’re happy with the product. If there’s something wrong with it, it’s like a typo or something, it can be fixed in a couple of minutes, you want to fix it right there. But if there’s an issue with it, then you want to put that back on a product backlog, and I’ll tell you why in just a moment, so that it can be fixed. Okay?
Then the next thing that’s going to happen is you want to have this kind of conversation with your client about what went well and what didn’t go well? What are you happy about? What are you unhappy about? And you’re going to put that information on what we call a lessons learned register. And so, you’re going to share that with the organization because if another legal team or your legal team is working on a similar matter in the future, they can use words tag words, go in and look and see what we learned from previous projects so that were not creating the same mistakes that we did before.
The last meeting after the Sprint Review is the Sprint Retrospective. And so, the difference between the two is the Sprint Review is client focused. The client is involved giving you feedback. With the Sprint Retrospective, it’s really just you and your legal team. And so, this is a time to talk about process improvement, to talk about how you are working together as a team and also trying to figure out a better way to get things done for the next Sprint. Also, you’re still going to capture those lessons learned and put that on the lessons learned register what you learned in your team meetings and then you’re pretty much at the end of that Sprint.
Now, you’re going to do a Sprint again, right, because we do this every one to four weeks. And so, the next thing that’s going to happen before you go back to that product backlog and start pulling more work off of it is you’re going to do something called backlog refinement. And actually, the backlog refinement is something that the product owner is supposed to do. So you know how you were talking about how things change, right? Things change pretty rapidly. And so, in one week or four weeks or however long your Sprint is, probably you’ve gotten new clients or the clients have changed something that they want to happen in their cases or their matters if you’re in corporate, executive, other stakeholders.
And so, the backlog refinement is the product owner going to the backlog and reprioritizing all of the items, adding any new items if we’ve got new project pieces that need to be added, anything like that. And then once he refines the backlog then the Scrum team can look at it again and pull more work out of it for the next one to four weeks.
Jill Francisco: That’s awesome. And like you said, that’s like what was a priority may not be anymore. And they get more input not just like a one time at the beginning like this is what I want to do and then like you said, things change, who knows? A million things can happen in our legal everyday life. And then all of a sudden like you said, once a priority is not so now that creates an outlet for that stuff. That’s awesome. So I know like I said, our listeners hopefully if their ears have kind of perked up and so, my thing is what do you think are some of the most benefits? Why should a paralegal may try to convince their firm or like you said, be the person that tries to get the firm to kind of look in this direction or use some of these philosophies if they don’t have them in place now?
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Well, I think that there’s a lot of benefits to running Agile projects. I think that — first of all, you’re just going to have that ability to be able to stay on top of your projects a little bit easier. I think it just makes planning a lot easier. I think that everyone is on the same page. You’re having the team collaboration and all of their rapid feedback and the reviews with the clients and I think that it’s just — personally I might be a little bias but I think it’s just a better way to rend your projects than the way that we’re typically doing them. I feel like a lot of the way that we typically run the projects as we’re a little bit more reactive than proactive and this just helps us flip the script a little bit and now we’re being very proactive and purposely planning rather than just running around trying to put out fires all the time.
Jill Francisco: Right. And like you said, jumping all over the places too I think an issue. Like you said, if this on fire, I got to rush over here and maybe you had a plan but you just end up bouncing all over the place. So, what do you think about, because few of my recent shows we’ve talked about this day and age right now, I feel like there’s a lot of opportunities out of there for paralegals because of how the work forces. Like I said, I feel like I could have 10 paralegal jobs if I had time to do I’m all right now. Do you think this is a good opportunity for paralegals like something they should get it? Does it increase their marketability? How about that kind of stuff with paralegals because I think you always have to have a motivation other than just this would help me out with my organization? Do you think it’s really an opportunity that paralegals can get in to?
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: I do. I think so because I think that there’s been more of a proliferation of legal project management jobs that we’ve seen in the past. I think the last time I was on LinkedIn and looking at legal project management jobs, there was something like 80,000 nationally and then there were about 10,000 remote legal project management jobs. And so, just having the skillset, it really does make you more marketable and I think it’s just something that’s going to continue to grow. You know the legal field. We tend to be maybe not the first to do things and so, project management is something that’s been going on for many, many decades. Agile’s been happening for 20 years and we’re just really starting to adopt it now. And so, I really feel like now is the time to get those skills and make sure that you’re leveraging them because you’re going to be one of relatively few people at this point that have that skillset.
Jill Francisco: Right. And like you said, probably like maybe setting yourself apart if this a time where you’re talking maybe you work in your firm and you know a little bit about project management you could maybe go out and get the certification and be like more of a specialty. And then when you’re marketing yourself to a new firm that you’re trying to switch up, that’s going to be something now that you have on top of just your regular experience.
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Absolutely.
Jill Francisco: And so, why don’t you, in case our listeners want to go out and do that, why don’t you tell them a little bit about that Scrum certification and where to go and things like that and maybe time commitment wise, just throw a little bit of that around. Because you know paralegals, we’re probably already doing 25 things.
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Yes. For sure. So I think the two organizations — there’s a lot of Scrum certifications out there but the two organizations that have been longstanding are the Scrum Alliance, that’s where I obtained my certified Scrum Master, and scrum.org which is where you can get a professional Scrum Master credential. For the certified Scrum Master, it actually isn’t that difficult. Really you have to take a class. I think it’s 16-hour class and then there is an exam to pass but it’s not a high barrier to entry to get a certified Scrum Master.
Now I do think it’s easier to understand a class if you’ve already run some project or if you’ve done a little of googling and you’re reading about the framework and you know the basics, I think it makes the class a little bit easier. But it’s not as difficult to get into. I’d say probably many paralegal certifications it’s not as difficult to obtain. Also, I think that the benefits, there is a cost associated with it but you can find a lot of different providers. So Scrum Alliance doesn’t do their own training for their certification. Instead, they approve people to do the training. And so, there is a lot of different trainers out there. I received my training through Think Louder for example.
Jill Francisco: Okay. And so, that gives you some leeway when you’re going to actually think about doing it. You have a few choices out there, is that what you’re saying?
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Yes. And also, before COVID, you had to do these in person. They want it very hands on because Agile is face to face, right? So now, you even have more of a benefit because with COVID, they are actually running these classes virtually. There’s still in real time of course but you’re taking a virtual class and then you can sit for the exam.
Jill Francisco: Well and like you said, you got to take the positive from some of these situations. And that’s definitely one thing because — I was going to ask you. The 16 hours, is that actually like set out to a schedule or is it more on demand type thing?
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: I think different instructors do different things so you might find some classes where it’s fours a day. You might find some instructors that are running eight hours a day. It really just depends on the instructor and how they want to set it up but you could find something pretty easily that’s going to work for your schedule.
Jill Francisco: Okay. Well, that’s all the time we have for this episode. Alicia, thank you so very much for being my guess today on today’s show and taking your time to discuss the ins and the outs of the project management, the Scrum Master. It just sounds like we laugh about so it’s super cool but really has a lot of really good things that you can take from it. I think even if you’re not going to do it, I think me just learning about the different ways and the breakdown and the cycle and just how they do things in the organization and the flexibility, I think all that is very practical to apply. It just gets you thinking and gets you thinking outside the box of different ways for you to do our everyday thing. So very useful information. So if our listeners, I’m sure that they have questions or they want to reach out to you to ask a little bit more, what’s the easiest for them to contact you?
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Well they can contact me, I’m Alicia Mercer on LinkedIn. That’s probably the easiest way for them to contact me and they can just send me a message.
Jill Francisco: Okay. Well, Alicia thank you so much again for joining me. It’s a pleasure to talk with you. This is awesome information and I know that if anybody has any questions, I know you’ll be real receptive to them to help them out. So thank you so much again.
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer: Well, thank you Jill. You’ve been awesome. I always enjoy talking to you.
Jill Francisco: I appreciate it. And thank you to our listeners who tuned in with me today. And if you have any questions or comments for me, please contact me at [email protected]. Hope you would join me for the next episode of The Paralegal Voice. I’m Jill Francisco, signing off.
Outro: The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network or the State Bar of Michigan or their respective officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.