While legal project or process management is not overtly ‘new’ to the industry, it has been slow to formally catch on within the majority of firms. Many law firms, however, stand to benefit from implementing a formal approach to managing legal matters. Why has there been a lack of acceptance for this concept? There may be several reasons.
First, firms may not have had enough clients asking how their legal matters are managed. For those clients who do, they can submit a sufficient answer to officially serve the request without actually having a formal process in place. This, we predict, will change.
Another reason is that many firms do not know where to start to create process management or do not have the appropriate resources in place to support the initiative. Further, law firms tend to be reactive, not proactive, and so wait to see the financial impact before making a change. There are more reasons but these typically are the top proponents for the lack of an LPM solution.
In this post I will tackle the first element of building a solid legal process management initiative: developing awareness. You may have reviewed a webinar or attended a seminar where it was suggested to ‘develop’ or ‘build’ awareness as a first step. We recommend this at Kraft Kennedy too. So what exactly does that mean? What does building awareness entail?
For starters, changes worth making take time and effort. There is no magic formula! Have some facts and figures ready to share with key stakeholders in the firm (executives, chiefs, and partners) that will really drive home the impact of what the LPM initiative in your firm hopes to achieve.
Part of developing and building awareness is sifting through the information that already exists in the firm. Below are two areas where you can begin:
- Review RFP questions being asked related to managing legal matters and project management over the past year compared to previous year. Put this into a chart for a visual representation.
- Review a successful matter for the firm and see what was written off, how the engagement letter was written, how scope changed, and how communications were handled with the client. Review, for contrast, a not-so-successful matter using the same metrics.
Just completing these two activities can surface a great deal of information that will ultimately reveal the firm’s profitability and leverage for work. The process of uncovering this information will start to develop and build the awareness. It will get the attention of the stakeholders and get them talking.
A second step in developing and building awareness is to ‘listen’. How do you listen? You start by asking questions. Create an online survey or conduct some face-to-face interviews with key questions on how the department or practice refers to their legal work and how the work is conducted.
For example, when implementing LPM many firms do not like to use the term ‘project management.’ Getting clear on what terminology resonates within the firm and culture is a big step in building awareness. Does the terminology need to be more ‘client-focused’ or ‘service-oriented’? Does ‘matter’ improvement resonate more over ‘process’ improvement? Asking questions and truly listening to the responses will allow the firm to appropriately create a strategy that leads to an impacting change for the initiative.
In closing, firms of all sizes can benefit from an LPM initiative. Moreover, mid-size firms are probably more apt to take advantage of starting an LPM initiative due to the lack of overhead and better ability to streamline the change. So, has your firm developed and built an awareness campaign for LPM? What worked for your firm? Do you need outside assistance to drive home the kick off of the initiative? We’d love to hear your successes (and failures) so please share in the comments below or contact us.