Legal Business

Recent Posts

“Plans Are Useless, But Planning Is Indispensable”
Posted on 3 Nov 2010 by Steven B. Levy

Yesterday I kicked off Planning Week with a quote from Helmuth von Moltke : "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy." That doesn't mean that you shouldn't plan, however. One of the greatest planners in history was the guy... Read More

Project Management and Technology
Posted on 16 Feb 2011 by Steven B. Levy

Yesterday I noted some highly successful large-scale projects that succeeded without the use of project management technology. I make this point - which I also make in my book Legal Project Management and my classes - because I continue to encounter... Read More

Specifications Failure!
Posted on 5 Oct 2011 by Steven B. Levy

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... Read More

The E Words: Effectiveness and Efficiency
Posted on 13 Sep 2010 by Steven B. Levy

The Three Geeks and a Law Blog guys (I think it's Tony Brown writing) have an interesting post on the limits of efficiency . It leads me to ask (rhetorically), What's the difference between effectiveness and efficiency? You know the old... Read More

Identifying Good LPM Trainers
Posted on 26 Aug 2010 by Steven B. Levy

A client asked recently, "How would you determine whether someone's a good trainer in this field [Legal Project Management]?" I came up with a brief list of traits to look for - requirements, in a sense: Passion for the subject... Read More

Risk Aversion and the Princess Bride
Posted on 15 Mar 2011 by Steven B. Levy

Rees Morrison has an interesting post this morning bridling at a vendor comment reported in KM World that "We trust our legal department to be risk-averse and process-oriented...." He takes on the process-oriented trope; I'm more interested... Read More

A Simple Example of Project Management
Posted on 21 Mar 2011 by Steven B. Levy

People have sometimes asked me for a simple definition of project management. The PMI (Project Management Institute) definition pretty much requires you to be a project manager before you can understand it. That's fine; PMI caters to actual and... Read More

Artifacts: The Map Is Not the Terrain
Posted on 1 Oct 2010 by Steven B. Levy

I've hear a lot about artifacts in the past two days. I saw an interesting list of questions about Legal Project Management from a firm partner. We discussed artifacts more than I anticipated in my most recent Master Class. And I responded to a... Read More

Steve Jobs, Teamwork, and Legal Project Management
Posted on 18 Oct 2011 by Steven B. Levy

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... Read More

Par 3s and Project Management
Posted on 29 Aug 2011 by Steven B. Levy

I saw an interesting quote from golfer Phil Mickelson today. If I ask anybody to think of their favorite golf course and favorite hole, it's either a par 3 under 150 yards or a driveable par 4. 1 In other words, people want to succeed. They... Read More

Can You “Demo” Project Management? An Introduction
Posted on 1 Dec 2010 by Steven B. Levy

In a column I write that deals with business and people-management questions, I described a very effective demo where the demoer showed up his product without appearing to demo it at all. In response, someone from Planbox, a company that makes project... Read More

Can Lawyers Learn From Best Buy?
Posted on 17 Jan 2012 by Steven B. Levy

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... Read More

How Dumb Is the Pointy-Haired Boss?
Posted on 1 Sep 2011 by Steven B. Levy

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... Read More

Certification
Posted on 1 Nov 2010 by Steven B. Levy

There are some recent posts going around about certifying project managers, particularly one from the always interesting Paul Easton. I continue to be the contrarian in this debate, based on almost two decades of working with other professional project... Read More

Productivity and Multiple Monitors
Posted on 1 Dec 2010 by Steven B. Levy

My estimable colleague Rees Morrison this morning has a brief roundup of statistics regarding productivity and multiple monitors . Project management is tightly tied to productivity, which is why this subject matters so much to me. Multiple monitors... Read More

  • Blog Post: Identifying Good LPM Trainers

    A client asked recently, "How would you determine whether someone's a good trainer in this field [Legal Project Management]?" I came up with a brief list of traits to look for - requirements, in a sense: Passion for the subject : A passion for the topic, as well as an ongoing commitment...
  • Blog Post: Are Clients 'Demanding' Change?

    Adam Smith, Esq. has an excellent piece this morning , based on a Legal OnRamp thread, questioning whether corporate clients are actually demanding the changes so many of us are talking about, from alternative fees/value-based billing to legal project management. Are clients really asking for efficiency...
  • Blog Post: The E Words: Effectiveness and Efficiency

    The Three Geeks and a Law Blog guys (I think it's Tony Brown writing) have an interesting post on the limits of efficiency . It leads me to ask (rhetorically), What's the difference between effectiveness and efficiency? You know the old saw about "doing the right thing" v. "doing...
  • Blog Post: Teaching Legal Project Management in Public

    Most of the training I do is for individual firms and departments. Thus it's not open to outside attendees. Occasionally, I teach what's called a Master Class. I have a public Master Class next Tuesday in Chicago for which I believe a couple of seats remain available. Patrick J. Lamb, litigator...
  • Blog Post: Artifacts: The Map Is Not the Terrain

    I've hear a lot about artifacts in the past two days. I saw an interesting list of questions about Legal Project Management from a firm partner. We discussed artifacts more than I anticipated in my most recent Master Class. And I responded to a blog post today that was nosing around them. An...
  • Blog Post: In Two Words: Project Management

    Movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn (the G in MGM) once responded to a suggestion: "In two words: im possible." 1 I can describe project management in two words. Too many people, including project managers, think they can describe it in one. My two words: Project. Management. Project management...
  • Blog Post: Learning From the Way Ford Learns

    Today's NY Times describes how Ford's designers went "back to the drawing board" to tune the controls on their new cars. They didn't use drawing boards. That was the first big step. They used video games and paper mock-ups and modeling clay. There are some valuable lessons...
  • Blog Post: 60 Tips in 60 Minutes?

    Ron Friedmann recently posted 60 Tips in 60 Minutes from the 2010 Futures Conference about more efficient practice. If you're a regular here or at my classes, some of these will sound familiar, such as the following (with my comments below each): Let managers do their jobs. Partners need...
  • Blog Post: Certification

    There are some recent posts going around about certifying project managers, particularly one from the always interesting Paul Easton. I continue to be the contrarian in this debate, based on almost two decades of working with other professional project managers in "soft-constraint" fields...
  • Blog Post: “No Battle Plan Survives Contact With the Enemy”

    First up in Planning Week is German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke. "No battle plan," he sagely noted, "survives contact with the enemy." When your plan meets the real world, the real world wins. Nothing goes as planned. Errors pile up. Mistaken suppositions come back...
  • Blog Post: “Plans Are Useless, But Planning Is Indispensable”

    Yesterday I kicked off Planning Week with a quote from Helmuth von Moltke : "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy." That doesn't mean that you shouldn't plan, however. One of the greatest planners in history was the guy who laid out - and got right - the incredibly complex...
  • Blog Post: “What Has to Be Accomplished”

    This is the fifth in a week-long series of articles about plans and planning, collected as Planning Week. The U.S. military (and various other armed forces) has the concept of Commander's Intent. Any (battle) plan needs to be accompanied by the Commander's Intent, which is summed up by these...
  • Blog Post: Telling Stories

    Do you remember what football games on TV used to be like in the days before Roone Arledge, Howard Cosell and Monday Night Football? They were boring if you weren't a dyed-in-the-wool football fan, especially if the game wasn't close. Producer Roone Arledge and announcer Howard Cosell had...
  • Blog Post: Pam, Jim, Steve, and GrizzlyBear

    Yesterday the three leading voices in Legal Project Management training had a mini-summit. The Center for Competitive Management invited Jim Hassett, Pam Woldow, and me to speak for an hour on Legal Project Management for law firms: the 50,000-foot overview, some best practices, how to drive acceptance...
  • Blog Post: Can You “Demo” Project Management? An Introduction

    In a column I write that deals with business and people-management questions, I described a very effective demo where the demoer showed up his product without appearing to demo it at all. In response, someone from Planbox, a company that makes project management software , asked, "Do you plan...
  • Blog Post: Demoing a Project Management Tool: Part 1

    Yesterday I introduced a series of articles in which I'll address two questions: How would I demo project management tools to an audience of accidental project managers? Can you "demo" great project management itself? This article begins a short series responding to the first...
  • Blog Post: Productivity and Multiple Monitors

    My estimable colleague Rees Morrison this morning has a brief roundup of statistics regarding productivity and multiple monitors . Project management is tightly tied to productivity, which is why this subject matters so much to me. Multiple monitors are a boon - an enormous one - if and only if...
  • Blog Post: Three Inexpensive Productivity Boosters

    Happy December. Yesterday I wrote about multiple monitors, calling them the third-least-expensive productivity tool you can get for your team. I suspect that raises an obvious question. If multiple monitors are #3, what are #2 and #1? 3. Multiple Monitors (Under $150) Two weeks ago, I picked...
  • Blog Post: Should Clients Pay for Meetings

    Yesterday I noted in passing the client objection to paying for meetings . This is also a question that has come up repeatedly at recent training courses I've done. In all my years on the client side, I usually pushed against paying for meetings involving, say, three or more people. I'm very...
  • Blog Post: What Does a Survey of Programming Languages Have to Do With Legal Project Management?

    eWeek, an IT weekly, just released a survey of the most sought after (paid jobs) computer programming languages. I was both surprised and intrigued to find that the top three were Java, C, and C++. They have three things in common, one of which is a meaningful metaphor for LPM. The names...
  • Blog Post: Goodbye, Jack LaLanne

    Jack LaLanne died today at the age of 96. What I found most interesting about Jack LaLanne was that he said he hated exercising. He made no bones about it; he didn't enjoy it. But he did it because the benefits were well worth the costs. Legal Project Management and Jack LaLanne have something...
  • Blog Post: Project Management and Technology

    Yesterday I noted some highly successful large-scale projects that succeeded without the use of project management technology. I make this point - which I also make in my book Legal Project Management and my classes - because I continue to encounter people who believe there's a technology "solution"...
  • Blog Post: The Biggest Technology Boost in Legal Project Management

    This week, I've written a series of articles pointing out that Legal Project Management is not dependent on project-management technology. So what's the most important thing a project manager can do to improve her use of technology, to use technology better to manage legal projects? Actually...
  • Blog Post: When Projects Go Bad

    There is a wonderful old Gary Larson cartoon titled "When potato salad goes bad." It shows a bowl of potato salad in a refrigerator holding up various other foods at gunpoint. Projects don't go bad in quite the same way. But they smell as moldy as month-old potato salad when they do...
  • Blog Post: Outsourcing: Bad Word or Wrong Word?

    (Note: Today's article is a bit off my usual Legal Project Management beat.) Ron Friedmann this morning presents an interesting way to look at outsourcing . His most striking point, I think, is this: Every law firm employee, in fact, works for an outsourcing organization. In-house counsel...