Legal project management (Part 15): The power of sharing

This post was written by Steve Barrett and Jim Hassett . Any lawyer who has ever had a mentor knows how valuable it is to have access to information about what has worked in the past, and what hasn't. But lawyers are busy, and sharing is not their long suit. Knowledge is often passed on haphazardly...

Alternative fee strategies (Part 2 of 3): Conservative risk avoidance

This three-part series is reproduced from the LegalBizDev Survey of Alternative Fees , a research report based on in-depth interviews with chairmen, senior partners and C-level executives at 37 of the largest law firms in the US. More conservative firms are trying to plan bids so that every deal is...

Legal Project Management (Part 16): Work breakdown structures

If you've read about our "just in time, just enough" approach to training , you know that I am not a fan of teaching project management concepts and terminology in the abstract. Instead, we prefer a "jump right in" approach, in which we coach each individual lawyer to find the...

The first program to certify legal project managers

About 36 hours ago, we announced the first formal certification program for legal project managers in a press release on Business Wire . Our announcement has already generated some buzz. It was picked up by Forbes.com and discussed by Paul Easton in the Legal Project Management blog. I was also interviewed...

Questions and Answers about Certified Legal Project Managers (Part 1)

The day after we published our press release announcing the first certification program for legal project managers , I got an email from Paul Easton , author of the influential blog Legal Project Management , with a long list of interesting and insightful questions about our program. Indeed, the list...

Legal Project Management (Part 17): Warning signs

This post was written by LegalBizDev Principal Steve Barrett . In an hourly billing environment, few incentives exist to be alert for warning signs of threats to matter schedules or costs. More than a generation of lawyers has practiced without the pressures of creating and tracking budgets. With...

Questions and answers about Certified Legal Project Managers (Part 2 of 3)

A few weeks ago, I posted the first answers to a series of questions Paul Easton had asked when we announced our new certification program. I postponed the next installment until today, when the first group begins the certification process. Paul's question: You designed this program in response...

Questions and answers about Certified Legal Project Managers (Part 3 of 3)

This post concludes my answers to the questions from Paul Easton , author of the Legal Project Management blog . For an update on the certification program’s status , see today’s press release on BusinessWire . Paul’s question: I find it interesting that the program is customized...

Project management vs. process improvement vs. Six Sigma vs. Lean (Part 1 of 2)

A few weeks ago, the Director of Professional Development and Recruitment at an AmLaw 100 firm asked me to clarify the differences between project management, process improvement, Six Sigma, and Lean. This was a very sophisticated client who had been researching this area for months, but she had heard...

Project management vs. process improvement vs. Six Sigma vs. Lean (Part 2 of 2)

Although there are many approaches to process improvement, Six Sigma and Lean are far more familiar to lawyers than any of the alternatives, as a result of Seyfarth Shaw's highly publicized success in applying them. Over the last two years, I've written several posts about Seyfarth's innovative...

Six steps to better budgets (Part 1 of 2)

Step 1: Define scope You can't estimate costs until you know exactly what you are budgeting for, so the budgeting process must always begin by defining the scope of a matter . The best statements of scope simply summarize the project objective, the deliverables you will provide, and the "carve...

Six steps to better budgets (Part 2 of 2)

Step 4: Look for ways to lower costs In the current competitive environment, if your budget perfectly reflects past history, it may not be low enough to win the work. For many years, there was little pressure on lawyers to lower costs or to work more efficiently. Then the economy headed south, and...

Overcoming lawyers’ resistance to change (Part 4): Find the bright spots

In this post, I would like to review the tactics leading law firms have used to complete the transition to what Paul Lippe described last March as "the new normal," a world in which law firms deliver enhanced services with predictable pricing, and generally do more with less. There's...

Why alternative fee revenues will keep going up

In 2010, 60% of Tucker Ellis & West's revenues came from non-hourly fees. In the seven years since the firm was founded, alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) have been growing in importance year by year. The firm currently has 160 lawyers in Ohio, California and Colorado, and AFAs now account...

Why the project management literature can be confusing

The participants in our new Certified Legal Project Manager TM program are analyzing how to apply best practices from other professions to their individual practices. In the first part of the program, they read key selections from six widely used reference books (including my Legal Project Management...

An introduction to legal project management (Part 1 of 3)

This series of posts is a slightly extended version of an article that appeared in the July 2011 issue of Managing Partner magazine . To download a PDF of the published version of my article, click here . In one sense, any lawyer who has ever planned a budget or managed an associate has acted...

An introduction to legal project management (Part 2 of 3)

This series of posts is a slightly extended version of an article that appeared in the July 2011 issue of Managing Partner magazine . To download a PDF of the published version of my article, click here . Problems like the ones described last week could be reduced or eliminated by focusing on...

Everything you need to know about legal business development (in seven words)

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post called "Everything you need to know about legal marketing and sales, in nine words." (The nine words were: identify prospects, get meetings, listen, get advances, don't stop.) But lawyers don't have time for nine words, so I then cut it to seven...