What is Legal Project Management? Is it just another discipline of Project Management (like IT PM, Construction PM or any other), or completely specific type of process coordination?
Project management has been there long before it has been codified and enriched with tools in 20th century. Pyramids or Great Chinese Wall were not built by chance and had to be coordinated. But only in 20th century with Gantt charts, usage in Project Management in military and Project Management Institute PMI foundation profession became formalized and fortified.
Very similar with legal proceedings, court cases in Roman Empire have to be managed and coordinated between jury, prosecutors, defendants, witnesses and other parties. But for legal profession only in 21 century interest in project management came to reality. Scrolling through material available online & offline it is easily noticeable that before year 2000 there is very little info on LPM (Legal Project Management). This timeline, and late arrival of LPM has a big impact of understanding of its definition.
Standard project is defined by Project Management Institute (PMI) as “temporary endeavor undertaken to create unique product, service or result”1. The definition is very wide, but stresses two topics – projects are temporary and undertaken to create unique product or service, what is clearly distinguishing them from “operations” (permanent creation of repeatable outcomes). And project management gets defined by PMI as :” the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.”1 The Wikipedia definition is slightly different – is the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified time.2
In my understanding LPM is subtype of Project Management having its specificities (like for example management of construction projects has as well). Similar notion is mentioned by Steven B. Levy in “Legal Project Management” – “legal PM is application of concepts and practices of project management to legal cases”3.
ALM Legal Intelligence Survey 4 gives similar definition – “it is the discipline of planning, organizing, securing and managing resources to achieve specific goals relating to the control and management of legal cases and matters”.
Interesting, and reaching beyond technical process of project management definition is given by Jim Hasset in “Legal Project Management, pricing and alternative fee agreements”5 – “legal project management adopts proven management techniques to the legal profession to help lawyers achieve their business goals, including increasing client value and protecting profitability”. This definition is my favorite, as it states not only “what” (used techniques) but also “why” business reason. And the “why” for LPM should be the corner stone of the next article.