View LPM Tidbits from February and March - Legal Project Management
Legal Project Management: Thoughts, tips, and discoveries related to the management of legal projects.

LPM Tidbits from February and March

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Juicy bite-sized morsels of legal-project management from February and March 2011.


With the Association of Certified Electronic Discovery Specialists's announcement that hit has awarded its first batch of CEDS certifications, e‑discovery certification has once again started generating buzz in the blawgosphere.


  • Jason Wilson, Vice President at Jones McClure Publishing, noted the buzz over legal-project management as this year's Legal Tech trade show in New York in a post to his blog.

  • Mary Abraham, Counsel at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, made a similar observation in a post to her Above and Beyond KM blog.

  • E-discovery consultant Brett Burney discussed legal-project management and other e-discovery trends for 2011 in an interview with Sarah Brown, live from Legal Tech, posted to Exterro's new E-Discovery 360 blog. 


There has been more buzz in the blawgosphere about the New York Times article on Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software (Mar. 5, 2011) than I could hope to summarize here. Beside, despite all the buzz, it was a bit ho-hum for me. For anyone in e‑discovery, the scenario presented by John Markoff's article was hardly news, as Ralph Losey points out in a post to his E-Discovery Team blog.

Most who have written about the article agree that it is important not because its "news," its not to those in the industry, but because of the impact it will have on the thinking of corporate management. Ron Friedman writes in a post to his Strategic Legal Technology blog:

The NY Times is sending a message that efficiency is now part of the baseline set of "features" in choosing an e-discovery supplier, whether vendor or law firm. They're sending that message to CFOs everywhere. It won't take long for that message to flow down to any GCs that have been doing things "the old way."

Steven Levy wrote a post in his Lexician blog explaining how the automated-document-review trend relates to legal-project management:

Efficiency in e-discovery is becoming required. Efficiency requires project management. You may not call it project management, you may not use what professional project managers think of as the traditional tools of project management, but nonetheless, e-discovery is a project that must be managed efficaciously.
This is a trend that will only strengthen the push for greater efficiency and predictability in the provision of legal services. Fixed fees, automation, project management, process engineering...what's new about all this? Nothing, unless perhaps you're a lawyer.

Jerome Kowalski, in a post to his Kowalski & Associates blog, advises law schools to see this as an opportunity to overhaul legal education. Part of that, according to Mr. Kowalski, is including legal-technology training in law school:

As the market and technology have combined to create computers and software to provide cheaper and more efficient legal services, law schools should focus substantial parts of its curricula to train its students on how to program these new computers, marrying both classical legal training and computer software training. If legal academia does nothing, as may be likely, the bulk of legal services to be rendered in the future will be produced by universities' computer science departments.
Actually, I think all the recent discussion about predictive coding and the use of artificial intelligence in document review is a bit myopic. I recently saw the documentary Transcendent Man, which chronicles the life and ideas of one of my favorite futurists: Ray Kurzweil. After watching this, I think the more interesting question I would like to hear legal futurists discuss is what the practice of law will look like in the age of super-intelligence and what modifications will lawyers need to make to their bodies and minds to stay relevant as machine intelligence improves, and become increasingly capable of performing more sophisticated legal work.


Checking in with the regular cast of LPM characters, below are squibs of recent posts from some of the LPM bloggers I read regularly, which I've not covered in the sections above.

Pamela Woldow

...I'll start At the Intersection, Pamela Wolden's (of Edge International) blog. 

  • In one of her recent posts, Pamela shares her observation that "the thinking is evolving about the roles and responsibilities of the players" in legal-project management. She believes that the legal communities view of legal-project management is evolving past a view of LPM as "a re-engineering of legal service delivery that took place primarily within the law firm," and is expanding into a view of LPM as a "communication engine - a bridge between law firm and client at all stages of an engagement - that keeps stakeholders in both camps in the loop, on the same page, and equally well-informed."

  • In another post, she continues the LPM-communications theme in an excellent post co-written with Doug Richardson. Pamela and Doug present three scenarios, two where miscommunication led to unpaid or delayed bills and a third where a post-project review created an opportunity to tighten a client relationship. Their post goes on to discuss the importance of "front loading" client communication planning and understanding what each communicant's authority is. The key to designing a communication plan, according to their post, is to prepare it from the bottom up:

    We think good communications planning should be bottom-up. It starts by identifying all the pieces and then assembles them into a matrix of communication roles and responsibilities. It charts the variety of interfaces between people and the specific conditions under which client and law firm stakeholders communicate. It's a map, and maps start by looking at the ground, not at the sky.
Steven Levy

Over at the Lexician blog, Steven Levy has been busy as usual dispensing his LPM wisdom. Some of the more notable posts:

  • He uses his experiences with an upgrade of point-of-sale terminals at his local grocery store to demonstrate how speculating on what when wrong can help you think like a project manager. He also suggests that usually it is a lack documented specifications but a lack of focus on the project's vision that is at fault when projects go bad.

  • An interesting discussion between Steven and Ron Friedman (Sr. Vice President of Consulting at Integron) in post to their respective blogs. It started with a post by Ron on this Strategic Legal Technology, where he discusses defining good support for lawyers. Specifically he responds to questions raised about quality support when outsourcing legal services and notes how few who raise this "issue" have no clear definition of good support. He points out that law firms are often providers of outsourced services (in-house counsel go do the legal work them selves but instead outsource it) and emphasizes the importance of metrics, SLAs, and a governance structure to defining good support.

    In a post to his Lexician blog, Steve comments on Ron's post and takes it a step further. Steve claims that the "outsourcing" has become a bad word, but it often the wrong word. Outsourcing, he argues, is simply a form of delegation. In most modern, large companies, managers focus on who is doing the work, not who is employing the working and he uses his experiences as Microsoft to illustrate his point.

    In an update to his post, Ron agrees, and references a post from 2007 where he makes the argument of outsourcing as being a form of delegation.

  • He discusses the proper understanding of risk in legal-project management: "Project managers know that you must evaluate risk in context. Good project managers know that you must also include opportunity cost -- the cost of not doing something -- in valuing risk."

  • He provides a simple example of project management for those who are not, and who do not aspire to be, project managers. His illustration involves planning a trip to Seattle from the island he lives on.

  • He warns about mistaking visible progress with total progress on your projects.

  • He also started a series of four posts on aspirational goods and services and how the concept applies to the legal market: here, here, here, and here

  • Also be sure to check out his excellent guest post on Slaw, which provides a job description for "own-the-case legal project management" (as opposed to e‑discovery project management).

Jim Hassett

The Legal Business Development blog has posted a number of interesting pieces related to legal-project management:

  • Jim kicks off a new series where he shares a legal-project management tip the first Wednesday of each month. His first tip emphasizes the importance of communicating with you team about the project's budget.

  • He shares a legal-project management case study, highlighting Williams Mullen's legal-project management initiative.

  • He posted the first two parts of a four-part series on how to improve the management of legal teams. The posts (here and here) cover the importance of identifying what drives your team, getting your own act together (leading by example), and understanding the game.
Other Notable News and Blog Posts

  • Onit is offering a free legal-process-modeling session to corporate counsel to show how Onit Premium can help legal departments simply legal-project management and automate legal processes. The Onit blog also includes a post that draws project management lessons from the planning of the world's most secure places in the world, which include reflections on selecting the right tools, the right people, and the right resources for your projects.

  • In a post to his Thoughtful Legal Management blog, David Bilinsky argues that IT knowledge has become a practice standard for lawyers and lists a number of examples where technological competence is important to providing competent legal services.

  • For you business process geeks in a gossipy mood, there has been a bit a drama in the blogosphere surrounding the the Association of Business Process Management Professionals's lawsuit against the Process Knowledge Initiative's efforts to create an open source BPM body of knowledge. The ABPMP claims that PKI's PKBok infringes on the ABPMP's copyright for the BPM BOK. The disputes has spilled over into the blogosphere, with the president of the ABPMP making some strangely personal, public attacks against Sandy Kemsley, a BPM professional and blogger involved in PKI's open source initiative. I liked Gary Comerford's comments on this dispute post to his Process Cafe blog.

  • John Wallbillich discusses the legal-project management "boomlet" in a number of posts to his Wired GC blog earlier this month. His first post points out the trend, noting the attempts to professionalize LPM as various groups start offering certifications.  His second post discusses LPM from the in-house perspective. My favorite observation he makes in this post is that

    project management training can be helpful. But good project management disciplines are wired into the culture of successful companies. New team members learn from old hands. Those who do well get a project of their own. Small ones at first.

    His third post discusses the "peculiar challenges faced by law firms aiming to benefit from more project management discipline." The major point that I took away from this post was his advice that "if law firms want to get better at managing projects, they will have to get better at managing people." His example of the newly LPM-credentialed paralegal/associate/junior partner's attempt at a project kick-off meeting to take control of project communications being met with the sound of crickets resonates with a point I often make when writing or speaking about legal-project management. The legal-project manager must be vested with authority over the project and backed by senior management.

    Mr. Wallbillich list five things needed for a successful project, all of which involve senior management supporting the project manager and project team. This is, according to him, why LPM can have trouble getting tracking in law firms: "If law firms want to get better at managing projects, they will have to get better at managing people."

    His fourth post neatly sums up the "lessons learned" from the prior three.

  • Susan Lambrath and Carla Landry discuss whether law firms should embark first on legal-project management or legal-process improvement in a post to Hildebrandt Baker Robbins blog. Their preference is to prioritize legal-process improvement.

  • Enterprise Storage Forum lists project management is the first of its "Top Six Trends for E-Discovery."

  • Luis Millan, in an article for Lawyers Weekly, discusses on legal-project management is the latest trend to lure clients.

  • E-discovery application provider Wave Software has acquired iFramework, an e-discovery project management application. According the to PR release:

    In July 2009, Wave Software formalized a strategic partnership with iFramework and integrated it with Trident Pro, its electronic discovery technology. Successful product integration led to the acquisition which will allow the company to more closely align its products and development team and expand its technology across more of the case and project management aspect of litigation.
  • The March edition of Your ABA has an article summarizing the ABA presidential showcase program during the ABA Midyear Meeting in Atlanta, "Back to the Future: Value Billing for the Legal Profession," sponsored by the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section. The program involved a "panel of true believers [who] spoke to legal project management and how it can make the legal profession more efficient and more profitable, can lead to the adaptation of best practices and can lead to a more disciplined approach to doing business."
And that concludes another week of Legal Project Management. See you next week!

That's all for now!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Paul C. Easton published on March 31, 2011 10:00 AM.

Legal-Project Management at LegalTech West Coast 2011 was the previous entry in this blog.

ILTA Presents iFramework Product Briefing: Project-Management Software for Litigation Support is the next entry in this blog.

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