Why Not Use Project Management?
By using project management principles, law firms can better manage their discovery obligations, adhere to budgets, and meet deadlines. Project management principles are widely practiced in each area of business except the law. Because it encourages attorney autonomy and the focus is on billable hours, the practice of law has been slow to adopt these principles.
But in increasing numbers, general counsel are starting to adopt legal project management principles to increase the efficiency of their in-house legal departments and to hold outside counsel more accountable to budgets and timelines. More firms are turning to project managers, whether in house or at litigation support vendors, to help manage their cases as project managers acquire legal and technology skills for discovery solutions.
What is Project Management?
Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to the different activities in a project to achieve the project's objectives. A typical project includes:
- Establishing the objectives;
- Identifying the requirements and risks;
- Identifying the stakeholders, the team members, and responsibilities;
- Developing the plan for the project;
- Adapting a plan for any changes to the project;
- Reporting of progress to the stakeholders and the team members; and
- Reviewing the results of the project.
Projects have competing demands that can affect the project's scope, quality of the work, timeline or budget. A change to any one aspect will affect one or more of the other aspects. For instance, if you change the scope of data to be reviewed, you will affect the time involved to review the documents and possibly the cost of the review. Project management keeps projects within timelines and budgets by planning ahead, staying on course with the plan, and avoiding or handling changes.