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A Guide to Legal Project Management – Whiteboard Wednesday


Well, hello, everyone. Welcome to another Whiteboard Wednesday. My name’s Anthony Widdop, I’m the Global Head of Legal Project Management here at Shearman & Sterling.

Well, today we’re going to talk about an introduction to legal project management. So what is LPM?

LPM is a set of tools, techniques, and behaviors that support the efficient management of our matters, and LPM really provides a structured approach to how we plan, price, and manage legal work.

So you may ask, where did legal project management come from?

Well, legal project management is about 10 years old in the industry. And when it emerged, legal project management was seen as the vehicle by which we could improve the management of our matters for our clients. These are the same clients that applied project management in their own industries for decades. So what is included within the scope of LPM?

So we look at project management throughout the life cycle of a matter. And every matter will have a life cycle, a pre-engagement phase, an engagement phase, and a post-engagement phase. And depending on the type of work that you do, that life cycle will be short or particularly long.

Pre-engagement Phase

So let’s talk about pre-engagement. So what’s included within pre-engagement? In the pre-engagement phase, it’s all about scoping out the work.

So what are we doing for the client and what is included within our mandate?

Then there’s the matter of planning. So how will that scope break down in terms of the plan of work? Matter budget, so how will we price and manage the work in line with the client’s expectations, the scope, and the expertise required? The staffing and resourcing, so who is actually going to perform the work and what resources do we need to use?

What technology do we need? What outside vendors, what external specialists might be needed?

Engagement Phase

Moving into the engagement phase, we look at having an internal kick-off meeting, and this is all around aligning performance, roles and responsibilities, and expectations. And this ensures you, as trainees, have a complete understanding to the background of the matter, what’s included, and the role that you’re going to play in a successful outcome for the client.

Matter updates are crucial to provide the client with transparency of progress at all stages of the matter, and our legal project management helps perform that.

Scope analysis is key. So scope, as we talked about in the pre-engagement phase, happens up front, but scope needs to be managed throughout the life cycle. And throughout your time at Shearman & Sterling, you’ll learn more about managing to scope, and actually managing to the client’s expectations.

And we manage that and we review that at all stages of the life cycle.

Post-engagement Phase

Moving along to post-engagement, so once the work’s finished, we’ve captured a great amount of knowledge and product which is for the benefit of us and for our clients on future matters. Capturing that work product is crucial to ensure that we are facilitating continuous improvement in how we deliver our work.

For you, as trainees of the firm, individual retrospectives are a way for you to consider how you’ve performed at your work, where there are opportunities for you to learn, to do different things differently next time.

Where are opportunities where there might be training requirements needed? And if we play that into a team format, we do Lessons Learned Sessions. These sessions allow us to actually capture, share knowledge in a group format with the clients, and internally with our teams.

It’s a very powerful mechanism for knowledge sharing. So in summary, talking about legal project management, legal project management is a must-have capability in the world of law today. It will apply throughout your careers, whether in business, in law, and it’s increasingly relevant to the complex matters that we deal with on a global basis at Shearman & Sterling.

It’s a must-have capability that will actually help you differentiate yourself and your capabilities as a trainee throughout your time at the firm.

Thank you for watching, and we’ll see you again on the next episode. How was that?