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ILTA 2011 - Legal Project Management Staff Roles Survey

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Kim Craig shared with me the results of the session survey from a presentation on LPM staff roles that she co-presented at the recent annual conference of the International Legal Technology Association. With her permission, I've made a PDF version available from this site. You can download it by clicking on the following link:

pspg1Polls.pdf

The survey report does not state how many responses were submitted. Nor is there any information about how many organizations are represented. Also, the audience demographics may influence the results. Still, the results are interesting anecdotal evidence of LPM adoption.

Unsurprisingly, given the event's technological focus, over half (64%) of the respondents were in IT or knowledge-management roles. The next largest group identified as being in "other staff roles" (28%). Only a sliver of respondents were in executive positions. 

The vast majority of respondents stated that their firms are considering or are already implementing LPM. Only 15% stated that their firms were not seriously considering LPM. A little over a third (37%) stated that their firms were investigating or planning. 29% have begun initial training and implementation. Only 21% answered that they were "well along" in long-term adoption and institutionalization.

I believe that these results do not match the legal industry at large. Attendees of an ILTA program on LPM are going to be self-selected to include individuals from firms that are evaluating and implementing LPM. I also wonder how well the respondents can accurately judge how "well along" there are in adoption of LPM. The legal community has only begun to adopt project-management practices and I am not seeing serious and in-depth discussions in the industry of how firms will assess their organizational project-management maturity. Still, I find it impressive, and indicative of how quickly LPM has gained traction, that a fifth of all attendees felt that their firms have made significant and lasting progress in implementing project management into their practices. 

Who is driving LPM in law firms? If the responses from this event are any indication, it is primarily "firm staff functions: IT, PD, KM, Finance" (44%), followed by senior management (27%), various practice groups or client teams (17%), and "a few vocal opinion leaders or champions" (8%). 

Interestingly, the drive to implement project management into legal work is being driven more from the firms themselves (73%) than their clients (28%). I suppose it only takes a few notable corporate clients demanding project-management capabilities to get firms to take notice and proactively work to get ahead of the trend.

Most firms initially approach LPM by applying it to a practice or work group (40%), followed by creating pilot programs to generate buzz (33%), with only a minority (12%) taking the approach of broad-scale training across many practice groups and lawyer levels. This makes sense as broad, but shallow (horizontal) approaches tend to be less successful than focused and deep approaches and the trend is towards a more focused, vertical approach

The cost of LPM programs is mostly coming out of either general operations budgets (37%) or  "KM or IT or blended among various areas" (34%). Only 13% are using their professional development budgets to fund LPM initiatives. The remainder are funding LPM from a "new function or group" or "other." I think that this reflects that LPM is still primarily championed by IT, KM, and LitSupport staff. This reflects the immaturity of LPM and that lawyers--at least the decision makers--do not yet see project management as a core competency of their legal team. I worry that this also reflects most of the investment being made in technologies and business-process consultants, rather than training. Because LPM is new and alien to most firms, they may also be opting to hire LPM expertise rather than try to develop it in existing resources. 

When it comes to tools, the respondents are more evenly split. About half report using Web pages (24%) and scheduling tools (26%) to support LPM. Over a fifth are using their firm's budgeting tools (23%) to support LPM.  Surprisingly, fewer than 6% report using social-media tools like wikis and blogs to support LPM. Given the strong role of KM in LPM initiatives and their strong representation in this survey, I would have thought there would be greater use of on-line collaborative, knowledge-repository tools in implementing LPM.

As for non-IT tools used to support LPM, standard document templates are popular, with over a quarter (27%) of the respondents reporting use of them. Other popular tools include "internal  awareness presentation" (20%), RFP response wording (11%), support from the project-management office (14% ... Really? ONLY fourteen percent?!), peer mentoring (8%), and "client presentations as part of RFP response or request from clients" (8%). 

Interesting results. Do they reflect what you are seeing in your own firms and legal departments? Share your experiences in the comments. 

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Paul C. Easton published on September 15, 2011 9:01 PM.

PMI & ILTA Present "Project Management = Law and Order" was the previous entry in this blog.

PMI Presents "Implementing Legal Project Management" is the next entry in this blog.

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