The Rise of Legal Project Management

J.B. Ruhl
Project management focuses on developing the skills to proactively scope, plan, budget, execute, evaluate, and communicate about a given undertaking.

Project management focuses on developing the skills to proactively scope, plan, budget, execute, evaluate, and communicate about a given undertaking.

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The Post-Normal Times is a column that follows trends in the legal industry, legal technologies, legal innovation, and access to legal services and offers insights into how new lawyers can turn them from agents of change into agents of opportunity. 

One of my friends is a construction project manager. He oversees large commercial building projects, making sure the right things happen at the right time, in the right order, in the right amount, and at the right cost. He’s deeply trained in the project management discipline, very good at what he does, and is well compensated.

Many lawyers would bristle at the idea that their litigation, transaction, and compliance work could benefit from a dose of rigorous project management. They are good at what they do and have their own “systems” for planning and keeping track of what they do. But using calendar and docket systems is not project management. Project management as a discipline focuses on developing the tools and skills to proactively scope, plan, budget, execute, evaluate, and communicate about a given undertaking, whether it be delivering a product or a service. Of course, most lawyers would like to think they do all that too, but a number of trends are demanding that they do so in a far more structured and skilled manner. In short, the demand for disciplined project management in the legal services industry is on the rise.

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