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Seyfarth Shaw Shows How Setting Up a LPMO Can Help Project-and-Process Improvement Efforts Succeed

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Law.com published a very interesting article by Gina Passarella today that discusses how firms are applying project and process management concepts to legal work.[1] What interested me most about this article was the description of how Seyfarth Shaw implemented Six Sigma and set up a legal project management office (LPMO).  I've written about Seyfarth Shaw's Six Sigma model ("Seyfarth Lean") in previous posts to this blog [2] and  Lisa Damon, Managing Partner at the Seyfarth Shaw's Boston office, was kind enough to take the time to provide more information on Seyfarth Lean with LPM's readers.

What makes Passarella's article so interesting is its description of the history of Seyfarth Shaw's program to implement Six Sigma methodology and project management standards at their firm. There is a candid discussion of their trials, errors, and improvements. Initially, their efforts faced quite a bit of resistance and the Six Sigma consultants seemed to have overwhelmed many of the attorneys in the firm, creating some friction. 

One thing that I took away from this article and its description of Seyfarth Shaw's experiences is how establishing a formal LPMO can help smooth the transition and ease adoption of new standards and processes in a law firm. 

Seyfarth Shaw created a project management office in 2005 outside of the information technology department where such operations have typically been created. Over the course of a year-and-a-half, the firm pared down the training, got rid of the jargon and left a lot of the heavy statistics for a few people within the project management office so that most of the lawyers wouldn't have to concentrate on that aspect. 
As recent discussions on this blog over the role of project management software in a law firm makes clear,[3] implementing project management does not mean that all attorneys must be trained as project managers.  It does, however, require that attorneys work even more collaboratively and follow standardized procedures when applicable. This means that firms need to get their attorneys to buy into the value of project management. 

Simply setting up an LPMO isn't going to magically transform a firm. It is inevitable that any attempts to change the status quo will rankle some entrenched interests. But having resources dedicated to the heavy lifting of project management and process improvement can keep the firm's lawyers focused on practicing the law, rather than sitting in Six Sigma training sessions.  That alone should do a great deal to help ensure the success of project and process improvement efforts.


[1] Gina Passarella, Law Firms Look at Process Management, Law.com Legal Technology, Oct. 20, 2009, at http://www.law.com/jsp/legaltechnology/pubArticleLT.jsp?id=1202434749125&Law_Firms_Look_at_Process_Management (last visited Oct. 20, 2009).

[2] Paul C. Easton, Law Firm PM Watch: Seyfarth Shaw, Legal Project Mangement, July 3, 2009, at http://legalprojectmanagement.info/2009/07/law-firm-pm-watch-seyfarth-shaw.html (last visited Oct. 20, 2009)(providing a general introduction to Seyfarth Lean, with a detailed and informative comment provided by Lisa Damon, who leads the Seyfarth Lean program at Seyfarth Shaw); see also Paul C. Easton, Law Firm PM Watch: Seyfarth Shaw's Six Sigma program highlighted in the ABA Journal, Legal Project Mangement, Sept. 17, 2009, at http://legalprojectmanagement.info/2009/09/law-firm-pm-watch-seyfarth-shaws-six-sigma-program-highlighted-in-the-aba-journal.html (last visited Oct. 20, 2009).

[3] Paul C. Easton, Buying a Lathe Does Not Make You a Carpenter: Setting Realistic Expectations for Legal Project Management Software, Legal Project Mangement, Sept 21, 2009, at http://legalprojectmanagement.info/2009/09/buying-a-lathe-does-not-make-you-a-carpenter-setting-realistic-expectations-for-legal-project-manage.html (last visited Oct. 20, 2009); Paul C. Easton, Project Management Tools in the Legal Environment: Can Old Dogs be Taught New Tricks?, Legal Project Mangement, Sept 21, 2009, at http://legalprojectmanagement.info/2009/09/project-management-tools-in-the-legal-environment-can-old-dogs-be-taught-new-tricks.html (last visited Oct. 20, 2009).

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Another sign that Legal Project Management is coming of age (or at least coming out of the wilderness): Dechert LLP is has begun a firmwide initiative to train every partner and associate in legal project management, eschewing specific process-im... Read More

As one of the leaders in applying to process improvement and project management to legal work, Seyfarth Shaw has appeared on this blog many times (see the "related posts" section, below). Once again the firm is receiving media attention for its Seyfart... Read More

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This page contains a single entry by Paul C. Easton published on October 20, 2009 6:11 PM.

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