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Legal Project Management Presentation for ACC Canada Vancouver, December 2nd, 2010


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Title: Legal Project Management Presentation for ACC Canada Vancouver, December 2nd, 2010

Legal Project Management Presentation for ACC
Canada Vancouver, December 2nd, 2010
  • Andrew Terrett, Director of Knowledge Management,
  • Carla Swansburg, Senior Counsel, Law Group, RBC

Is this your perception of Project Management?
  • Part 1 Some definitions
  • Part 2 Why do lawyers need Project Management?
  • Part 3 Key concepts
  • Part 4 Application to legal services

Part 1 Legal Project Management key
What is it really? Project Management is
  • A mature discipline with
  • A number of organisational institutes /
  • - Project Management Institute (PMI)
  • - Association for Project Management
  • Standards e.g. Project Management Body of
    Knowledge (PMBOK), PRINCE2 (PRojects IN
    Controlled Environments)
  • Certifications e.g. PMP, CAPM, PgMP, Risk,
  • Large growing global memberships e.g. PMI is
    active in over 180 countries

A few definitions
  • A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to
    create a unique product or service. (PMI)
  • Project Management is the application of
    knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to
    project activities to meet project objectives
  • In realitypart art, part science
  • Art people management, negotiation
  • Science scope, time, cost, risk,
    communications, quality

  • PM is
  • A set of tools, techniques and guidelines (a
  • To be used as required
  • As appropriate neither too much or too little
    (think Goldilocks not too hot, not too cold)
  • Not just for the mega-projects

Why has project management not captured the
imagination of lawyers?
  • They dont teach it at law school
  • It seems like lawyers dont need project
  • Lawyers have a framework its called the Law!
  • It seems like there are just too many variables
    in legal practice so lets just get drafting and
  • Lawyers are not adept at applying best practices
    from the business world
  • Lawyers enjoy the autonomy that comes with
    subject-matter expertise

Part 2 Why do lawyers need Project Management?
Seven reasons
  • Maintain sanity!
  • Budgetary certainty
  • Project Management is proven it works!
  • Project Plans are great communication tools (90
    of Project Management is COMMUNICATION).
  • Project Planning makes for better RFP responses
    for law firms and evaluations of RFPs by
    in-house counsel
  • Project Plans make for better Knowledge
  • Project Plans are great learning tools for junior

Reason 1 - Maintain sanity!
  • Are you familiar with this scenario? A new
    project is announced. You experience the
  • Excitement
  • Disenchantment
  • Confusion
  • Panic!
  • Disaster
  • (Search for the guilty, punishment of the
  • (Rewards for the non-participants)
  • Good Project Management can reduce the likelihood
    of this scenario

Reason 2 Budgetary certainty
  • The economic imperative - more for less
  • Law departments are keen to negotiate alternative
    fee arrangements and firms are under pressure to
  • Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Value
  • AFAs Fixed fees, caps, blended rates (not
  • In-house counsel are getting more and more
    pressure to control and accurately predict costs
  • They want value and
  • They want a reliable budget in advance so
  • Planning is becoming essential
  • To deliver AFA and make a profit, law firms need
  • Law Departments can use PM to negotiate and
    structure AFAs and manage internal projects

Reason 3 Planning Precedes Performance
  • Project Management is proven
  • Research on IT software development projects
    shows better outcomes when PM discipline is
  • No organisation that adopts project management
    ever walks away from it. They simply evolve and
    mature in their usage
  • (But its not a magic bullet!)
  • The majority of project still fail in terms of
    on-time and on-budget delivery
  • But if you dont use PM, you would have no idea
    what on-time and on-budget even means!

Reason 4 Project Plans are a great
communication tool and an opportunity for
  • Project plans allow the planner to
  • Reflect
  • Identify and validate assumptions
  • Reduce risks
  • Project Management requires that a plan is
    communicated to all project stakeholders
  • The entire team
  • Clients/Business partners/internal clients for
    in-house lawyers
  • Entire external legal team
  • Students, law clerks/paralegals
  • For internal projects, other key people like
    corporate communications/PR, executives
  • In other words, anyone who has a stake in the

Reason 5 Project plans are great BD tools for
law firms and evaluation tools for clients
  • Project plans allow law firms to respond more
    quickly to RFPs and can distinguish firms
  • Heres how we would tackle your problem
  • Demonstrates that the firm has thought this
  • Demonstrates that they have done this type of
    work before
  • For in-house counsel, allows an easier
    comparison of responses and progress

Reason 6 Project Plans are great KM tools
  • Knowledge Management is all about lawyers
    accessing the right information at the right
  • We collect and re-use precedents, research memos,
  • Why not project plans?
  • Avoids wheel re-invention
  • Embeds knowledge for others to access
  • Allows for evolution of process improvement

Reason 7 Project Plans are great learning tools
  • It is in the organisations interests that new
    lawyers get up to speed as quickly as possible on
    any given legal matter.
  • A project plan provides an overview of the entire
    process. It defines what is meant by done and
    describes the necessary steps.

Part 3 Key Project Management Concepts
Some key PM concepts (as described in the PMIs
  • Scope, Time, Cost, Risk, Quality, Communication
  • Bear in mind PMBOK is a toolkit pick the
    pieces that suit the circumstances
  • In legal services, one size does not fit all
  • theres complexity
  • there are unknowns associated with negotiation
  • litigation (strategic aspect)

The Four Project Stages (the PMBOK Waterfall
  • Ask / Listen in this stage
  • Should we do this?
  • What are the alternatives and their merits?
  • Typically, as lawyers, the approval to proceed
    has already been given e.g.
  • Acquire this target
  • Defend the client against this lawsuit
  • Output
  • In-house Counsel Response to a situation
  • Private Practice Engagement / Retainer Letter

  • Ask / Listen in this stage
  • What does done look like?
  • What is success here?
  • What do we need to do to get there?
  • Who is best to do it?
  • What will it cost?
  • Typical response before PM..
  • We dont have time to plan, we need to start
  • (Equivalent of saying We would rather do this
    quickly than efficiently)
  • Output
  • Scope
  • Project Plan/Strategy
  • Fee/cost estimate

1st key concept - Scope
  • Scope is the work that must be performed
  • to deliver a product or service and
  • meet specified requirements.
  • In-Scope / Out-of-Scope
  • Think of this as two lists A and B
  • Scope Management
  • Speak now or forever hold your peace
  • Define the impact of scope changes before scope
    is approved. (Scope Change not scope creep)
  • Distinguish must haves from nice to haves

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
  • Two approaches
  • Top down (Decomposition)
  • Bottom-up
  • Expert judgment
  • Find the people who have done it before
  • Templates
  • Progressive elaboration
  • You dont have a crystal ball so that you can
    look 5 years down the road
  • Particularly important, for example, for

A simple WBS example
Commercial Lending Agreement Example(High level)
Commercial Litigation
2nd key concept time management
  • Logic/network diagrams
  • Bar charts, milestones, gates
  • Critical Path

3rd key concept Cost Planning
  • To create a budget (from nothing)
  • Step 1 - Work Breakdown Structure (Task list)
  • Step 2 - Assigning resources (each of which have
    a cost)
  • Step 3 - Consider contingencies
  • gives us an estimate
  • The importance of historical data
  • Dont start with a blank sheet of paper unless
    you have to!
  • Time and billing systems vast quantities of
    historical data but difficult to mine without
    other tools
  • Ball-parking budgets is massively unreliable
  • Dont do it!

Execution/Monitor and control
  • Deliver the work product
  • Ask / Listen in this stage
  • Are we on time?
  • Are we on budget?
  • Have we met the deliverables?
  • Have the objectives changed?
  • Typical response before PM
  • Focus on the tasks and get them done
  • Output
  • Communication
  • Revised plan
  • Deliverables

Monitor and Control
4th key concept Cost management
  • Step 1 Determine at what level of detail you
    will manage the budget
  • Step 2 - For law firms ensure timekeepers
    regularly enter their time
  • Step 3 Compare estimate, cost to date and
    remaining work
  • You dont need sophisticated tools to do this.
  • Project plan allows in-house counsel to track
    firms progress

  • Ask / Listen in this stage
  • What did we do well?
  • What can be done better next time?
  • Did I receive value for the costs? (client)
  • Did we deliver value for the costs (law firm)
  • Typical response before PM
  • Get the bill paid (Private Practice)
  • Determine if any deliverables will make good
    precedents (KM opportunity)
  • Output
  • Lessons Learned
  • Process Assets

5th Key PM concept - Risk
  • Two elements
  • Probability (is it going to happen?) and
  • Severity (how bad would that be?)
  • Risk Management process
  • Identify, Analyse, Respond
  • Risk rating probability severity
  • Allows counsel to focus on true risks and spend
    less time/effort on minimal risks
  • Risk Response Planning
  • Mitigate, Avoid, Transfer, Accept
  • Risks can be hidden, missing or unclear because
    requirements are unclearWhat are the risk

6th Key PM concept Communication
  • Communication Planning who needs to know what,
    when, how?
  • Project Sponsor Who is the overall decision
  • Responsibility Planning
  • Who is responsible?
  • Who is accountable?
  • Who needs to be consulted?
  • Who needs to be informed?

7th Key PM concept - Quality
  • Quality is defined as The degree to which a set
    of inherent characteristics fulfils requirements
  • What is quality in the context of legal services?

The Project Management Iron Triangle or Triple
Part 4 Application of PM principles to legal
Objection 1 - Yes, but issues come up
  • Issues come up in every project that require
    changes to scope, schedule, etc.
  • Issues simply highlight the importance of
  • Agreeing in advance what done looks like and
  • Agreeing to a process for approving changes
  • Scope Change Management
  • New tasks, new dollars, amended timeline
  • The Iron Triangle

Objection 2 We cannot plan from beginning to
end (say the litigators in unison)
  • So dont try!
  • Litigation is not so much a single project as a
  • Clearly you cannot schedule from pleadings to
    trial litigation is too fluid. The planning
    horizon is much shorter
  • Progressive elaboration!!!
  • Plan to the next milestone or deliverable
  • Be prepared to throw away the plan!

Objection 3 Were already doing a lot of
  • You may well be
  • But Legal Project Management
  • Makes explicit what was previously implicit
  • Adds structure to what you already do (provides a
    template for better organization and planning of
    legal matters)
  • Introduces a common vocabulary

Objection 4 Everything I do is uniqueevery
deal is different
  • (aka fear of Susskind)
  • Response - you actually need more PM!
  • Project Management is about structure
  • not necessarily about process improvement,
    commoditisation, etc.
  • (Yeah but)

Objection 5 PM cannot be done in the context
of a law firm/client relationship
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • What PM skills are available
  • Do they have dedicated PMs or dabblers?
  • Do we have an agreed PM methodology?
  • Whos in charge?
  • Inhouse
  • General Counsel
  • Assistant General Counsel
  • Senior Counsel
  • External Counsel
  • Partner?
  • Senior associate?
  • Paralegal (project co-ordinator)

Objection 6 Theres no suitable PM software
for lawyers
  • There are many software applications that can
    assist with project management planning and
  • Some options for your consideration
  • MS Project 2010 (Server), Primavera, Liquid
    Planner, Onit, Swiftlight
  • Budgeting software e.g. Budget Manager, Engage,
  • eBilling Software e.g. Serengeti
  • Matter Management Needles, Prolaw, Amicus
  • (Note The Apollo moon landings didnt have MS
  • Use software as a tool. It should not replace
    critical thinking

One size does not fit all
Transactions Litigation Compliance
Can you scope out this project from beginning to end? Yes (generally) Yes - tasks to the next milestone in detail. You can also plan end-to-end at a high level with a lower degree of certainty Yes, but more process than project. Deliverables are defined already
Can you estimate time and costs required based on the tasks? Yes (generally) Yes reliable estimates to the next milestone and less accurate high level time and cost estimates for future phases Yes
Can you define communication and responsibility requirements? Yes Yes Yes
Can you identify risk and associated mitigation strategies? Yes Yes Yes
OK, I get it. Where do I start
  • Start small
  • Pick an area (start with the simpler areas not
    IPO, not Class Actions)
  • Bring in a consultant for basic Legal PM training
    like this
  • Create a Work Breakdown Structure and try to
    execute against it
  • (It wont be fun the first time)
  • Learn quickly and fail forward
  • Apply Lessons Learned, rinse and repeat
  • Then start talking to external counsel
  • Start small, pick another area
  • Create a Work Breakdown Structure, try to execute
    against it
  • Figure out what tools and techniques work best
    for you.

Example Scope Statement template
Project Communications Plan
Example Responsibility Matrix
Risk Assessment Matrix
Contact Details
Carla Swansburg Senior Counsel Royal Bank of
Canada Toronto (416) 974-6712 Carla.swansburg_at_rbc.
  • Andrew Terrett, PMP
  • Director of Knowledge Management
  • Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
  • Toronto
  • (416) 367 6497