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THE INNOVATION ISSUE

 Table of Contents | Features | Frontlines | Technology | Business

April 2009 Issue | Volume 35 Number 3 | Page 45
FEATURES

SIGNS OF INNOVATIVE LIFE IN THE PRACTICE OF LAW - TRY THIS: PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Clients are increasingly demanding more creative and proactive lawyering, driven by new ways of thinking about legal solutions while focusing on reducing legal costs. Diderico van Eyl, who is intellectual property counsel for SABIC Innovative Plastics (formerly GE Plastics) is focusing on this point by designing “proactive legal services” for delivery to corporate clients. To accomplish this, he is using project management, a discipline ordinarily used by industries outside of the legal profession. As van Eyl explains it, “Many deliverables that lawyers produce can be considered a ‘project’—or, a ‘temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result’ as a project is defined under the Project Management Institute (PMI) framework. The legal work flow, particularly within a corporate setting where the lawyer is well integrated into the business, lends itself nicely to being organized and structured around the five project process areas of the PMI framework: the initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and control-ling and closing processes.” Moreover, he says, “the project management framework can help lawyers provide commercially useful, integrated legal advice and communicate across cross-functional teams.”

his approach recognizes that a lawyer’s true value in a global company is to actively participate with clients’ profit centers and help improve their product development and management processes. Lawyers have a critical choice in the face of globalization and ever-changing client needs. We can either wait to see what happens to demand for traditional legal services, or we can anticipate the changes certain to affect the future and act now to shape the direction of new services. What’s so interesting about van Eyl’s thinking is how it advocates for applying practices from other industries in “traditional” legal settings in ways that can help lawyers

About the Author

Stephen P. Gallagher is President of LeadershipCoach and a former practice management advisor for the New York State Bar Association. He provides a broad range of coaching services directed at facilitating positive change.

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