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: Watson Takes on E-Discovery

    By now you've likely seen the NY Times article about computers and e-discovery . For folks in the legal field, the content of the article isn't news, I trust: Computer analysis is making huge inroads in e-discovery and is in many cases replacing attorneys (and their jobs). Think about the...
  • Blog Post: Risk Aversion and the Princess Bride

    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 in the "risk-averse" side of the...
  • Blog Post: A Simple Example of Project Management

    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 aspiring project managers. In the real world,...
  • Blog Post: Working Hard or Hardly Working?

    The city/county/state is doing a major rebuild of the streets leading to the Interstate exit closest to my house in Seattle. My office is in my home, and when I travel I take another road to the airport, so I get to see the road construction once every week or two. You'd think that at one-...
  • Blog Post: Par 3s and Project Management

    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 don't necessarily want success handed to them...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: Steve Jobs

    I knew the day was coming, and I knew it would come for him sooner than for most of us, it's still a shock to hear of the death of Steve Jobs. Apple was a love-it-or-hate-it company, and within the technology world there are many who fall into the latter camp. Still, even those most frustrated...
  • Blog Post: The Steve Jobs of Law?

    Larry Ribstein has a great short post over at Truth on the Market reflecting on the future of law, titled Waiting for the Steve Jobs of Law . He notes, "Law is waiting for its Steve Jobs (or Bill Gates)." Actually, the computer market needed both Steve and Bill. They goaded each other...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: The Hobgoblin of Foolish Consistency

    (I should have posted this yesterday, when hobgoblins were out and about in the neighborhoods. And the first half wanders far afield before returning to project leadership concepts. You can skip the intro and jump right to that point .) I was working on some slides when I noticed that PowerPoint...
  • Blog Post: A Lesson in Leadership from Aon’s Litigation Counsel

    Mark Herrmann, Chief Litigation Counsel for Aon, writes about his first 360 review here . A 360 review is common in many corporations for mid-level and senior managers. An HR consultant (usually) helps you map your self-assessed strengths and weaknesses against those defined by your manager(s)...
  • Blog Post: 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...
  • Blog Post: Project Leadership and Motivation

    What does science know about motivating employees that businesses too often ignore? That's the topic of an 18-minute talk by (nonpracticing) lawyer Dan Pink . He frames it as an argument to the jury of the audience. In this 2009 talk, he describes the science of motivation, which is fairly...
  • Blog Post: “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...