Legal Business

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:

  1. Passion for the subject: A passion for the topic, as well as an ongoing commitment to it as a specialty, is a must for a trainer in any subject. Legal Project Management is an area where a number of people are putting a toe in the water. It's an emerging discipline, and so it's no surprise that a number of training organizations and consultancies are testing its revenue potential. Starting with a toe in the water is fine, but by now those serious about it ought be more than halfway in.
  2. Experience in three disparate areas: Legal Project Management itself is a mixed discipline involving 1) project management and 2) the legal world; to those add 3) instructional design and instructor-led training (ILT) skills. Training itself is a skill unrelated to either the law or project management. An ILT leader who doesn't understand instructional design or how people learn will be ineffective as a trainer no matter how much experience he or she may have in the legal or project management worlds.
  3. Skilled and engaging presenter and leader: Given the extent to which training has a trainer rather than a watch-how-I-do-it mentor at the center, the trainer must be able to engage and hold an audience made up of a mixture of early adopters and skeptics. Likewise, the trainer must have leadership skills; he or she, after all, will need to reach and motivate attorneys who by nature are suspicious of those who purport they have something to teach. At the same time, partners don't want to feel like they're back in law school.
  4. Able to define "project management" and "project manager" without once using the word "schedule" or a synonym: Does the trainer  understand the difference between traditional project management and Legal Project Management? Can she quickly transmit that understanding? The principles are the same, but the core skills are different, the practitioners (attorneys) are of different makeup and temperament, and the science itself is different. Too many project managers in less determinate areas, whether software development or professional service delivery such as the legal world, think PM is about schedules, dependencies, and powerful but complex tools such as Microsoft Project. LPM may involve these areas, but it neither stems from nor centers around them.

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