Do Lawyers Need Project Management Training
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Do Lawyers Need Project Management Training

The State of Project Management Annual Survey 2018

Wellingtone has been working with a number of leading law firms for a number of years.  Initially, this was to provide practical training to those in support functions such as IT and Facilities delivering courses that incorporate the APM PFQ.  Over time savvy fee earners have themselves pro-actively shown an interest in best practice project management as their world has changed.  The traditional fee arrangement of billing for hours worked is no longer the norm and firms recognise fee earners are running projects.

Over time savvy fee earners have themselves pro-actively shown an interest in best practice project management as their world has changed.  The traditional fee arrangement of billing for hours worked is no longer the norm and firms recognise fee earners are running projects.

The traditional fee arrangement of billing for hours worked is no longer the norm and firms recognise fee earners are running projects. Law firms recognise they need to change.  Project management is a core part of the response to this industry change and represents a significant market differentiator to those who get it right.  Indeed, the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) represents over 10,000 organisations across 75 countries published survey data on what General Councils value most from their external legal providers:

Project management is a core part of the response to this industry change and represents a significant market differentiator to those who get it right.  Indeed, the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) represents over 10,000 organisations across 75 countries published survey data on what General Councils value most from their external legal providers:

  • Better management, lean efficiency
  • Certainty/predictability
  • Focus on outcomes and results, not just process and analysis
  • Costs that equate to value received
  • Outside firms whose motivations and business model are aligned with theirs

Change within the legal profession is, therefore, driving adoption of Legal Project Management (LPM) in the same way commercial change has driven adoption in other industries.  The key drivers for this change include:

  • Greater competition. New entrants with packaged legal services using lower cost resource & locations
  • Drive to fixed price. Clients demand fixed price work, pushing risk and scope management firmly onto the shoulders of law firms
  • Aligning working practices. Corporate clients are familiar with PM techniques and expect these from their suppliers. They expect detailed project plans and accurate cost estimates in a function that is not traditionally easy to plan or forecast

Some leading law firms have embraced this change and now employ “Legal Project Managers” to manage complex cases. These are not legal experts but provide the “grease to the wheels” for the legal team, allowing them to focus on providing their specialist expertise yet at the same time enabling a firm to successfully manage resources, costs, work and client expectations.

Other firms recognise the value in training lawyers in best practice project management. This enables them to speak the same language as their clients and ensure work is delivered at a high quality without eroding margin.

There is limited guidance in the public domain for legal project management techniques.  Working in cooperation with some of our existing clients Wellingtone has developed and now launched a focused 1-day Legal Project Management training course for fee earners.

This practical and intense 1-day course is designed to enable fee earners to lever best practice project management on their client work.  It directly addresses a range of issues commonly identified by leading law firms:

    • Poor management of changes (scope creep) to the project…absorbing extra work
    • Not defining the project success criteria and expectations
    • Inadequate planning, just jumping in and starting
    • Poor estimating, tasks take longer than anticipated

Insufficient allocation of resources, in terms of numbers and skills/experience

  • Poor communication within the team
  • Poor work distribution, Partner reluctant to give others responsibilities, doing work that can be completed by lower cost resources…eroding margin
  • Forgetting commercial drivers…desire for quality coupled with poor estimating also leads to erosion of margin

Packed full of practical exercises delegates apply techniques on their own projects throughout the day.  We customise the course further to align with the methods & templates of each firm so this is not a public course, but a client specific offering.

This groundbreaking new course demonstrates our commitment to thought leadership in project management.

Please do contact us to discuss this new exciting offering in more detail.

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