Project management is gaining popularity in every industry, and legal is no exception. Many attorneys are turning to legal project management principles and tools to increase efficiency and profitability for their law firms.
Proper organization and management make it easy to handle complex legal projects and attain excellent results. Project management for lawyers is cost-effective and efficient and has proven invaluable within the industry.
The following article will give you an overview of legal project management, its benefits, tips on becoming an excellent legal project manager, and how project management tools help increase your firm’s efficiency and productivity.
Let’s get started.
What Is Legal Project Management?
Legal project management entails applying principles related to project management to run the services your law firm provides. Legal project management ensures that these services are handled correctly and efficiently from start to finish. This approach aims to increase productivity leading to improved client outcomes and satisfaction, thus boosting your bottom line.
Why is Legal Project Management important?
While hiring a legal project manager is not a must, most growing law firms could benefit from project management.
Below are some of the reasons you need to implement project management in your firm:
1. Increased efficiency and productivity
The more thorough your planning and project management process is, the more efficient your legal projects will be. When you plan well, you’re better placed to effectively manage and use your budget, time, and other resources.
Legal project management enables the project manager to delegate work based on the expertise and capacity of each team member. It also allows you to monitor work and improve workflow. This increases productivity and with this comes better results.
2. Attract more business
Once you have a track record of delivering outstanding results, you’ll undoubtedly attract more business. New clients will get impressed with your thorough planning and the results it bores. The more impressed your clients are, the more they’ll refer you to more business.
3. Better communication
Communication is paramount in any project. Project management smoothens communication across channels. It makes communication between stakeholders, clients, and team members easier. When communication is flowing, everyone will be on the same page, which streamlines the project management process to a great extent. Proper communication also creates a harmonious work environment, making it easy for individuals to work more efficiently.
4. Risk Management
Risks are inevitable with any project. Project management requires thorough planning, which involves mapping out potential threats and creating a risk management plan. According to the PMI, more than 27% of organizations widely use risk management practices.
With a contingency plan in place, the team will know how to handle any arising issue before it escalates. The organizations stand to decrease issues affecting the project by 80% – 90%.
Proper planning also ensures that you understand your clients’ needs and satisfy them with your final service. This dramatically reduces the risk of malpractice.
The project management process enables you to gain much insight, from cost to time to human resource efficiency. This information can help your legal team forecast future projects’ needs and prepare in advance. For instance, you can predict how long similar projects will take, the number of resources they need, how much you might spend to deliver them successfully, and how much you can make from the project. You also get to know your resource capacity, which informs the number of projects you can take on at a time.
6. Cutting costs
Running a legal project can be expensive, but you can push down costs with increased efficiency. For instance, increased productivity reduces the time needed to finish a project, preventing budget overruns. Increased efficiency also eliminates waste which can eat into your budget.
4 Phases of the Legal Project Management Process
Project management for lawyers follows four simple and easy steps:
Step 1: Define your project goals
Your first step is to identify and define your project goals and objectives. This process requires the whole project team and clients to be involved. It ensures that all stakeholders understand what you hope to achieve with the project.
Gather as much information as you can about the project and client needs. Then, define the goals of the project and outline your project scope. Clearly defined goals and scope give you a specific direction and streamline the legal project management process to a great extent.
Step 2: Planning
Once you define your project goals and determine a proper scope, you can create a project plan. This is the plan that your legal project team will follow to accomplish the project’s goals.
Break down your project into tasks and subtasks when creating the project plan. Organize these tasks in order of priority and set realistic deadlines for each. Next, determine the resources required to complete these tasks. Finally, determine a budget for the whole project.
Once you complete creating your project plan, share it with relevant stakeholders so that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities in the project and let everyone confirm their availability and capacity.
Step 3: Execution
Now it’s time to bring your project plan to life.
In this step, monitor and track task progress to ensure that each person executes them as planned and within set deadlines.
It’s crucial that you pay attention to any risks that may arise during execution. Also, ensure that the project stays within your scope to prevent scope creep, which may derail the project. You also need to monitor your predicted cost and actual cost, flag any differences, and address them asap to ensure you’re not going above budget.
Monitoring enables you to remove any bottlenecks as soon as they appear so that the project progresses according to your project plan.
Provide your project team, clients, and other stakeholders with regular updates on progress and status. Regular updates help keep everyone abreast of how the project progresses and what needs to be handled at every stage.
Step 4: Review
Once the completion phase is over, you need to look back at what you did well and what you can improve on. Many legal managers tend to overlook this step and move on to the next project. Reviewing your projects is essential for making improvements for subsequent ones.
Ensure that you assess the project’s results and evaluate its successes and failures. Then discuss with the team about any gaps in the project and issues that the team could have avoided for better results. Brainstorm on ways to improve the project management process for the next project.
Tips for Running a Successful Legal Project
Knowing the law is one thing; managing legal projects efficiently is another. Here are some helpful legal project management tips you can start implementing today.
- Set S.M.A.R.T. goals: Goal setting, as we mentioned, is the first step in project management. When setting your goals, ensure that they’re Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.). You want your goals to be something you can hold yourself and others accountable for.
- Effective team communication and collaboration: Make communication easy within teams and with all stakeholders. When teams can communicate with each other with ease, it fosters a culture of collaboration. When teams collaborate, ideas flow, and efficiency increases because nobody works in isolation and everyone does their part to keep the project moving forward.
- Don’t micromanage: Once you’ve worked out a solid project plan and allocated tasks to the most suitable team members, step back and give them the space to work. While you’re the team head, don’t try to take over everything. Instead, support and empower your team to accomplish individual and project goals. Then monitor and assist in handling any obstacles that come up.
- Don’t overwork your resources: Understand each team member’s availability and how much work they can handle without getting overwhelmed. Don’t overstretch your resources. It helps to put work in progress limits (W.I.Ps) that limit individuals from moving to one task before finishing the previous one. This ensures that people focus on the most pressing tasks and don’t take up more than they can handle.
- Create regular and accurate reports: Reports are paramount in keeping clients, teams, and other stakeholders updated on the progress of your project. It’s good legal project management practice to generate regular reports throughout the project lifecycle. Regular reports will help you know whether people are hitting set milestones, risks are mitigated, and if the project is performing to cost and schedule.
Why Legal Teams Should Use Project Management Software
Legal project management tools make planning, monitoring, tracking, and reporting easier. With the proper tool, you can:
Create team schedules easily
A project management tool can make scheduling tasks easier. With features such as Gantt charts, you can have a visual view of your workflow. Everyone on the team can easily see what they’re supposed to work on and when. The project manager can move tasks around and adjust deadlines in case of any bottlenecks and keep teams working at capacity.
Keep track of billable hours
To manage project costs and increase efficiency, you want to make sure that people are spending their billable hours on work that matters. Keeping track of who worked when and on what can be a time-consuming and tedious process. Project management software makes it easier because individuals can use timesheets to log in their hours and submit invoices. You can then generate reports and use them to bill clients.
Track progress in real-time
Use a project management tool to collect insights and automate report generation. This will help keep your project stakeholders in the loop without taking up much of your time. You can quickly generate a report on project progress with just a click on timesheets. Another click on project financials will generate financial statements that show real-time project costs. Another click on your communication feature will send these reports to anyone involved in the project.
Automate legal document management
Save precious time for you and your team by automating document collection and updating. You can store all your legal documents in one place within your software. A single document hub makes it easy for stakeholders to access project documents. Managing documents with a project management tool also reduces human error.
How to Use Mission Control When Managing Legal Projects
Mission Control is a project management software created to help streamline workflows and increase the efficiency of legal projects.
To get a better idea of how Mission Control can help manage your legal projects better, check out these key features:
- Project Dashboard: Your project dashboard monitors the project and allows you to gain insights into the progress and performance. This visibility will help you stay on schedule and within your budget.
- Kanban Boards: Kanban boards are an invaluable feature that assists with assigning, prioritizing, and monitoring tasks. You can easily add work in progress limits (W.I.P.) using your Kanban board to prioritize tasks. Teams can easily update the Kanban board as they complete tasks.
- Chater Feed: This instant communication feature enables your team to communicate efficiently, share files, and collaborate effectively. This feature is mobile-friendly and can be accessed anywhere, even when teams are working remotely.
- Timesheets: Timesheets save you hours of administrative hours by enabling everyone to easily record billable hours in real-time on a phone or desktop. You can also automatically generate invoices to help with paying your team members.
- Project generation launchpad: If you have recurring legal projects, save yourself valuable time by cloning an existing project instead of creating new project plans every single time.
Ready to give it a try? Contact us today to see how Mission Control can help you with your legal project management needs.