An earlier version of this article was published and distributed worldwide via the Internet by Mondaq® and by email from on December 6 and 7, 2006, respectively. It is copyright to Douglas C. Allen P.A.© 2006-2007, All Rights Reserved.
Published here May 2007.

Introduction | Scope of Work | Statement of Work, Resources and Control
Risk, Communications and Closure | Budget | Schedule | Communications | Summary

Statement of Work, Resources and Control

At a minimum, a comprehensive SOW should include the following elements or sections:

  • General Description. The general description should consist of a brief, concise summary of the purpose of the work, the objectives and expected outcome, the key personnel who will be involved in the work, the major tasks to be conducted and the deliverables to be produced, and the schedule, including the expected completion date.
  • Detailed Description. Arguably the most important section of the SOW, this section should provide a detailed description of each task and the associated activities to be conducted, the interrelationships of these tasks, and the expected outcome or output (e.g., the deliverables or work products) from the work performed.

    This section may also explicitly identify what work will not be included in the SOW and this can be important. By carefully and thoroughly defining the boundaries of the work scope, it will be easier for the legal team to meet client needs and expectations, and for the legal team and the client to identify and address necessary changes in work scope and unexpected "scope creep".[3]

    An important tool that should be included in any SOW is a work breakdown structure (WBS). A WBS is a tree-like graphic that displays the hierarchical breakdown of the work (tasks and activities) to be performed. Each descending level of a WBS represents an increasing level of work detail. The WBS facilitates status reporting and forms the basis for the development of the organizational breakdown structure and the project schedule.
  • Resources. The SOW should clearly identify all individuals on the legal team who will be working on the legal matter. This would include not only the in-house legal professionals (attorneys, paralegals, clerical, and other support staff) but also any outside vendors, consultants or experts. Each individual's role and responsibilities should be clearly delineated, including who is responsible for oversight and supervision of junior members of the legal team and who has strategic and legal decision making authority (for both the legal team and the client).

    An organizational breakdown structure (OBS) should also be included in an SOW. Like the WBS, an OBS is a tree-like graphic that displays the hierarchical breakdown of the responsible entities (the client and the law firm(s)) and individuals who will be involved with the project. An alternative or supplement to the OBS is a responsibility matrix that conveys the same information in a tabular format.
  • Monitoring and Control. The SOW should specify in detail the methods and procedures that will be used for tracking costs (including reconciling the actual expenses against the budget), reporting progress (through status reports, milestones, and techniques like earned value analysis), and addressing delays in schedule, changes in scope and budget, and changes in project personnel.
Scope of Work  Scope of Work

3. Scope creep refers to ongoing changes in the scope of work performed without approved changes in the budget and adjustments in the schedule. In many cases, the changes in work scope are incremental and by themselves may not lead to significant impacts on either the budget or the schedule. However, the aggregate effects of small scope changes could lead to serious adverse budget and schedule impacts.
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