Legal Business

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 extraordinaire and an author himself, will join me in the presenter's "chair."

The Master Class differs from training for a law practice in some interesting ways:

  1. There is a very diverse attendee profile.
  2. The attendees often work for competitors, and some have seen their firms or departments on opposing sides of a particular matter.
  3. The attendees are there willingly... and likely are (or are looking to become) thought leaders at their practices.

1, Attendee profile: The profile may or may not be more diverse than at a private session. I've done private sessions that included the managing partner and other partners, senior associates, not-so-senior associates, and the marketing and IT directors. I've got another session coming up at a partners-only retreat. Master Class attendee lists look more like the former than the latter. In addition, there's geographical diversity, there may be a mix of firm and in-house folks, and the attendees range from BigLaw to small firms and departments.

I love the diversity because it brings a broad range of opinions and backgrounds. I encourage interaction among the participants as well as interaction with the presenter(s). Smart people bring differing backgrounds and opinions to bear on questions, and thus attendees learn from each other as well as whatever I'm teaching. Indeed, I learn from the attendees too.

2, Competition: At the Master Class, it's an interesting challenge for competitors to work together and share ideas. As a generalization, attorneys are pretty good at getting past differences to work together... but not so good at sharing ideas only partially formed. They've all been taught, don't ask a question to which you don't know the answer. That's probably good advice in an adversarial situation, but it's not conducive to learning. I love the challenge of building a learning environment safe enough to ask about what they don't understand, and even risk "dumb questions" (no such thing, of course) in front of their peers.

3, Thought leaders: If I teach a group of, say, 15 at a firm, they will have each other for moral support as they try to bring the beginnings of project management to their matters. They may be in the lead, especially if they're the pilot group, but they're not in the lead alone. They have both peer and firm support as they move forward.

On the other hand, it's often just one attorney from a given firm or department attending the Master Class. She'll then go back to her practice and begin to manage projects without the given of firm and peer support. That can be a tougher road... but the people who take on that challenge are future practice leaders. A room full of such people is also a challenge to me to ensure that I meet their needs, and it's a cohort I look forward to working with.

So if you are available, join Pat Lamb and me in Chicago next Tuesday. The advantage of Chicago is that, with the class ending at 4:30, you can make an evening flight out to almost anywhere in the continental US or major Canadian cities. A solid grounding in the subject, ten practical techniques you can use when you return, checklists and templates, some Legalnomics and budgeting work, even CLE credit: what's not to love?

Read more on the Lexician Blog.