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Reframing Law Firms' "Five Imperitives" with Project Management

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A blog I've just recently discovered and am enjoying a great deal is Steven Levy's "No Secret."  Steven Levy recently left his job as a Senior Director of Microsoft, where he led the company's legal technology business team. He is currently the Principal at Lexician, a consultancy that "helps law firms and law departments get value, savings, and rapid return on investment from their technology and their projects" (from the company's Web site).

Thursdays are "Project Thursday" on Levy's blog and are rewarding reading for any project manager. I particularly enjoyed today's post, where he makes the case for why "smart firms" are looking to legal project management. He first notes that LPM is a new field that has not quite cracked out of its egg shell yet. 

As for what is taking this chick so long to hatch, Levy nicely sums up the attitudes of the legal community that is like a big, fat, lazy hen trying to ignore the movement and cracking sounds of the new generation. He lists the "five imperatives" of traditional law practice:

LPM, at least for firms serving corporate clients, is not about the practice of law per se, but about the mechanics of that practice. As such, it goes counter to almost all of what attorneys have learned at law school and in the practice of law since getting that precious JD: 
  1. I do whatever it takes for the client.

  2. I do whatever the client asks. (Figure out if it's legal, first. Unfortunately, recent stories point out a few attorneys who forgot that part.)

  3. Partner profit is a function of one variable, hours billed.

  4. I went to law school to practice law (and/or make a bunch of money), so don't give me that project-manager &@&(!(#!^.

  5. I solve my client's legal problems, not their business problems.
Steven Levy, Project Management for the Legal World, No Secret, Sept. 17, 2009, URL.

He then shows how "smart firms" that have embraced LPM have re-framed these "five imperatives." For example, instead of "I do whatever it takes for the client," the firm that has taken the LPM approach would say:

I will ask the client what their goal is for this matter, what they and we need to do to be successful, and what they will spend to achieve that goal. I will ensure all work furthers that goal. I'll still do whatever it takes, but only if it moves the ball toward the goal.


I highly recommend this post and seeing how he's used the LPM approach to re-frame the other five imperatives of traditional law practice. You can read the entire post at:

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Paul C. Easton published on September 18, 2009 1:56 AM.

Law Firm PM Watch: Seyfarth Shaw's Six Sigma program highlighted in the ABA Journal was the previous entry in this blog.

Buying a Lathe Does Not Make You a Carpenter: Setting Realistic Expectations for Legal Project Management Software is the next entry in this blog.

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