If you’ve recently graduated from law school, you might have a rosier, romantic view of what being a lawyer is like. At least, rosier than what it is in real life. In real life, every case is a project.
And not only that, but every case is a project with more odds and ends than you’d ever expect.
So even though you might be focused on courtroom results, project management is an important part of making sure things go smoothly.
And before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let’s define what project management actually entails.
What is project management?
Project management is the process of applying matter management strategies to meet deadlines and ultimately achieve a common goal.
You may own all or part of the responsibilities, but as the lawyer, it’s your job to keep track of what’s getting done and what might be falling by the wayside.
Project management can help you outline the process with clients for the ultimate transparency, and it can also help give clients clear expectations of time and costs involved in each step of the process.
And as you get more efficient at managing projects, you can offer a more streamlined service to your clients. This means that you’ll be able to offer a better value than most of your competitors.
You don’t necessarily have to be the one to track all the minutia, and you definitely shouldn’t if this is your law firm, but a good project management system will give you an idea of where things are working smoothly in your firm and where you could use improvement. This is also the case for individual team members. If someone drops the ball on their responsibility, it will instantly be clear to the project manager that they’re falling behind.
Whose job is project management?
If you’re running or working in a small law firm, project management may well be your responsibility. In a larger firm, you might have a dedicated project manager to handle the job. Oftentimes, the project manager is an intern or attorney in training who well understands the legal process.
When you’re hiring for the job, make sure you hire someone with legal experience. Legal project management is very different than software project management.
And if you’re one of those attorneys who are just starting out, project management is a great place to begin.
3 Reasons Why Project Management is an Important Skill for Lawyers
Even as an experienced lawyer who doesn’t handle project management tasks himself, it’s important for you to have a foundational understanding of the process.
Here are 3 reasons why:
1. Offer competitive pricing
As time marches on, clients only seem to expect better pricing from their legal team. A lot of this has to do with technological advancements and fluctuations in market pricing. As various programs, including project management programs, become more efficient, lawyers can spend less time on the small stuff and offer a better value to clients. But if your firm is behind on project management, you won’t achieve that level of efficiency.
2. Scaling your business
Project management is always important in your law firm, but it gets more important as you add clients and lawyers. Imagine having to keep track of a team of 50 lawyers without an efficient project management system. Impossible.
3. Staffing changes
What happens when one lawyer gets sick or has a family emergency? With a good project management system, someone else can easily jump in and handle the caseload without a major transition.
How clients benefit from project management
Ultimately, your goal in learning project management is to provide a better service to clients. Not only will you be able to offer better value and a more streamlined and transparent service, but your firm’s customer service will increase exponentially. Even with complicated cases, you should be able to communicate answers to clients in a timely manner when it’s all laid out in a project management system. Whether you’re a corporate lawyer or personal injury attorney, project management provides a better working experience for your legal team and a better overall experience for your clients. So if you don’t have a good system in place, it’s time to start one. Your business will thank you.