Asking Questions to Which You Don’t Know the Answer: Project Management Lessons From TEPCO, Part 4

This article is part 4 of a four-part series on project management lessons from the tsunami that damaged the TEPCO Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex. Tuesday, I noted three big project-management errors in their risk analysis. Wednesday, I described how they missed a big risk . Yesterday, I detailed...

Legal project management: Fundamental shift or flavor of the month?

Last month, the Canadian magazine Lexpert ran an article about legal project management that began by describing two partners at Stewart McKelvey who participated in our Certified Legal Project Manager TM program . The article went on to discuss other project management initiatives at such firms...

What Does “Cost” Mean?

The always interesting 3 Geeks blog had a post the other morning about the procurement function in legal in general and reverse auctions in particular . The bigger question is this: Should clients buy legal services based on cost? 1 I don't want to argue the question itself here. (The...

Four ways lawyers should improve project management – A litigator’s view

This guest post was written by Jonathan Cooper , a partner and trial lawyer at Tucker Ellis & West . It is an edited version of an essay he wrote as a participant in our Certified Legal Project Manager TM program, after completing readings from several leading project management textbooks. ...

What’s different about LEGAL project management?

A few weeks ago, Three Geeks and a Law Blog ran a post entitled "Is it 'legal' project management or just project management? ," which included very interesting comments by a who's who of thought leaders in the field, including Pam Woldow , Tim Corcoran , Steven Levy , Toby...

How to define legal project management

When I give speeches, I usually include a slide that defines legal project management. But until recently, I had not been satisfied with my own slide. Legal project management is an emerging area, and no one can be sure what it will look like in a few years. Which makes it hard to define the term...

Book review: Project management for lawyers

Buy this book. (Right after you buy mine .) Project Management for Lawyers was written by two experts in this emerging field: Barbara Boake , a senior partner at McCarthy Tetrault , and Rick Kathuria, a certified Project Management Professional at the same firm. The book draws on their experience...

The ACC Value Index

We live in an age when consumers rate everything from restaurants to toaster ovens and movies on Yelp , Trip Advisor , Netflix , and hundreds of other web sites. In this environment, is inevitable that law firms too would be rated online. In October 2009, the Association of Corporate Counsel introduced...

LPM Case Study: Fasken Martineau’s bottom-up approach

A few weeks ago, I gave a presentation at the Toronto office of Fasken Martineau , a firm with over 675 lawyers in Canada, the United Kingdom, France and South Africa. The topic was Legal Project Management (LPM): What law firms are doing today, and what each individual lawyer should do to get started...

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...

How Dumb Is the Pointy-Haired Boss?

Scott Adams and Dilbert regularly ridicule management, usually represented by the pointy-haired boss, or PHB. Over the many years Adams has been drawing the strip, he's certainly found plenty of targets for ridicule. Many of them have struck home with workers and bosses alike. I thought...

Legal Project Management by another Name

Jay Shepard has an interesting post today at Above the Law where he talks about the need for partners to teach associates to be future partners . He lists seven things a teaching partner should do to strengthen the firm for the future: Be consistent. Share the whole picture. Provide...

An introduction to legal project management (Part 3 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. Firms that are looking for more affordable solutions sometimes start by focusing on the...

How to manage budget risks – The example of enforcing a non-compete

This guest post was written by Richard Rosenblatt , a partner in Morgan Lewis's Labor and Employment Practice. It is an edited version of an essay he wrote as a participant in our Certified Legal Project Manager TM program . When we represent clients seeking to enforce non-competes, there are...

Specifications Failure!

Here's a picture of the field from Sunday's Jaguars-Saints football game, from NFL.com: Look at the directional arrows painted on the field next to the yard markers. Compare the arrow on the 10-yard line at the top of the picture with that at the bottom. (They're supposed to point...

Can Project Managers Win by Being Annoying?

Some project managers lead successful projects by working well with the members of their team, their business partners/clients, and so on. Actually, most successful project managers are successful because they know how to work with people. Sometimes, in difficult situations and get-us-out-of-this...

Everyone’s Trying to Get in on the Act

I saw an ad today for a university-sponsored legal project management 1 course for in-house counsel. I checked out the instructors, figuring that a reputable university would of course engage one of the specialists in this area. In this case I assumed it would be one of my colleague-competitors...

Steve Jobs, Teamwork, and Legal Project Management

Jonah Lehrer writes in Wired and The New Yorker about Steve Jobs using architecture to inculcate teamwork when he took over Pixar. He insisted that Pixar's headquarters be designed so that disparate groups of employees were forced to come together for certain functions. He insisted on a large...

Has the Hourly Billing Model Become An AFA?

In a telephone conference earlier today with a client talking about legal project management and alternative fee arrangements, I was struck by a statement by one of the partners on the call. Although he recognized clearly that AFAs, especially fixed fee matters, makes project management more urgent...

Pricing (Part 1 of 6): What lawyers need to know and why

Some law firms are going to large companies and offering to do all their legal work for one fixed price, but the firms don't know how it will work out in the long run. I suspect in some cases it will come out really ugly. This prediction was made in 2009, by a senior partner from an AmLaw...

Pricing (Part 2 of 6): The cost-plus approach

A few weeks ago, when I gave a speech at the retreat of a 1,000 lawyer firm, a senior partner asked: "In your experience, how do large firms determine costs?" I replied: "Mostly, they don't. Until recently, most firms were making so much money they didn't need to precisely...

Can Lawyers Learn From Best Buy?

Larry Downes in Forbes has an article on the decline and (they presume) fall of Best Buy . Other than the hagiography of Amazon.com, 1 there are some very interesting points in the article. Before you read it, though, consider what you think intuitively is Amazon's core advantage over Best Buy...

Can Lawyers Learn From Best Buy?

Larry Downes in Forbes has an article on the decline and (they presume) fall of Best Buy . Other than the hagiography of Amazon.com, 1 there are some very interesting points in the article. Before you read it, though, consider what you think intuitively is Amazon's core advantage over Best Buy...

“Data Driven”: In a Car, Is the Driver a Bug… or a Feature?

Driver: Bug or Feature? "The fact that you're still driving is a bug," [Google's Anthony] Levandowski says, "not a feature." I'm sure there'll be the inevitable responses about computer crashes vs. auto crashes, but Levandowski has a point. Read the sentence...