Unlocking the power of legal project management
As we come of age with chartered status, there has never been a better time to be part of the project management profession. But while the profession of project management is thriving overall, its status and maturity vary between sectors.
In its “heartlands” of construction and IT, project management is long established and well understood, but that is not yet the case for legal services. However, the challenges faced around legal project management bring opportunities.
Last month I had the pleasure of joining our corporate partners in the legal sector to discuss the opportunities of a bolstered legal project management sector. And secondly, the challenges faced in the sector. I would like this event to be the start of a conversation: what should APM do to support this sector more?
This was one of several questions debated at the forum, attended by more than 20 representatives from the legal sector, including legal project managers and APM corporate affiliates.
Looking back, we have seen these transformations before in sectors such as pharmaceuticals as adoption of best practice project management is driven by market demand and a change in attitudes.
Clients are now asking how are you going to manage this? What is your project management approach? Highlighting to firms the risk of not adopting a best-practice project management approach.
The forum agreed, there are a number of factors that means the sector needs to embrace Legal Project Management. But for any organisation to improve its project management maturity, the fundamentals need to be in place: consistency of approach and reporting, executive buy-in, effective scoping and appropriate teams. These are not specific to project management in any one industry.
While project fundamentals apply universally, for legal matters, there are unique challenges. Attempting to exactly apply PRINCE2, for example, in a legal environment would not work perfectly. So, it is imperative we begin developing best practice guidance and principles for Legal Project Management.
The widespread agreement that Legal Project Management needs to be more clearly codified and supported by core documentation was a positive take away for both the sector and APM. A lot of the content, all were agreed, already exists, but in diffuse places. The network, it seems, represents an opportunity to draw it together in a central body of reference.
Samantha Kerrison, legal project manager at Berwin Leighton Paisner, summarised our challenge well: “There is a lot of smoke and mirrors around what we do, and having credible sources and APM behind it will be fantastic.”
I would like to thank all who contributed to the conversations and Vince Hines of Wellingtone Project Management for his presentation at the event.