Scope of Work
The scope of work (SOW), or the project plan, serves as the written "road map" or core document for how a project or legal matter will be executed. It defines the overall goals and objectives; what work will be conducted; how it will be conducted and by whom; how it will be controlled and monitored; how changes in the work scope, schedule and budget will be addressed, etc.
The development of a comprehensive and complete SOW should begin with an open discussion between the client and the law firm(s). The law firm will identify the legal services covering the elements, issues and concerns that need to be addressed in any SOW. A useful tool for "brainstorming" the contents of an SOW is the "mind map". Mind mapping is an innovative variation on the more traditional brainstorming technique which encourages the application of lateral thinking. This visually-oriented tool can be particularly invaluable in the planning stages of a project where there is a need to synthesize ideas and information and organize it in a way that facilitates the identification of connections, obstacles and pathways.
Mind maps can be hand drawn (like brainstorming on white boards or flip charts).
However, the advent of computer-based mind mapping software such as Mindjet's
MindManager® provides a much quicker, more flexible way to capture, organize
and distribute information. An example of a mind map for planning and executing
a legal matter is shown in Figure 1 (See also Footnote
2 for further description).
Figure 1: Mind map example covering a legal matter
While there is no standard format, a task-based SOW offers some distinct advantages over a more open-ended, generalized SOW. First, a task-based SOW encourages both the client and the legal team to identify and thoroughly describe the major tasks and associated activities (and their interrelationships) needed to complete the work. Second, a task-based SOW can greatly facilitate the subsequent identification and assignment of personnel resources, the development of a budget and a schedule, and the monitoring and control of the executed work.
2. This mind map shows a generic process for planning and executing a legal matter such as a commercial transaction or initiating a lawsuit. The map provides a visual summary of the important topics that would likely need to be addressed in putting together and executing a scope of work within a specified period of time and within a given budget. A map such as this could serve solely as a planning tool from which a more detailed project plan could be produced or, with appropriate modifications and expansion (i.e., links to separate more detailed maps for each topic, and/or links to budget spreadsheets and project schedules), it could serve as the primary project plan itself.