Lawyers Share How Project Management Techniques Help Their Firms
Project management, when well executed, greatly improves client service and increases law firm profitability. That’s why Rocket Matter released Rocket Project Management earlier this year, a powerful workflow management platform that integrates with Rocket Matter’s case management platform.
As Larry Port, Rocket Matter CEO and author of the ABA’s bestselling The Lean Law Firm, recently said, “More and more lawyers are embracing project management techniques, and we want to help them run more efficient and error-free firms. The more that attorneys can view their firms as systems with repeatable processes, the better off they will be. Firms will become more profitable, have more insight into their operations, provide better service to clients, and more accurately price alternative fee arrangements.”
We asked lawyers which other ways they leverage project management techniques in their firms. Here’s what they had to say:
“Our firm has made substantial investments in technology-based project and case management applications that allow the inter-office workflow, the individual and staff- based tasks, and any office litigation flow to be assigned, trackable, and easily reportable to the clients. We created a secure portal for clients to login and view their case files and the work flow, including future tasks yet to be completed. The key to our success was transparency and client involvement. Our clients felt empowered and jumped at the opportunity to be involved in the process. In the end, we are able to collaborate more efficiently and communicate more effectively. Also, the custom litigation flows allow us to train our staff quicker.” —Stephen Babcock, a personal injury lawyer in Baton Rouge
“Prior to becoming a lawyer, I was a project manager and management consultant in the construction industry for approximately 10 years. During that time, I learned and implemented project management techniques such as scheduling, project development, cost estimating, work allotment, and personnel/subcontractor management. I use all of them today in my law practice. Perhaps the most important and most used technique at almost every law practice is scheduling or calendaring. I generally rely on calendaring software, but when a timeline is more complicated or may require a significant amount of work, I will create a Gantt chart because it gives a very simple, easy to understand visual of the project schedule which is easy to communicate to clients. ” —Michael C. Mapes, a litigation and transactional lawyer in northern California
“Every time we have a complicated case come into our firm, we use a technique that helps us with organization. The first thing we do is review the case plan to make sure we know the options at each court date and which attorney would be the best to handle each part of the case. We lay out attributes of our ideal juror and then discuss which attorney would make the best connection with that juror. Overall, planning, strategizing, and delegating are common techniques we use on a weekly basis. I believe this helps me be a better lawyer because I can research the entire case with a group and bounce ideas back and forth with each other. This ensures that there will be less surprises throughout the duration of a case.” —Alex Ozols, a criminal defense lawyer in San Diego
“We embrace technology in our personal injury practice and use management techniques to ensure all of our car accident clients are informed, understand the progress in their case, and know what needs to be done before we can try to resolve the case or file suit. This is done through an online legal client management system in which we automatically calendar monthly phone calls to the client by the attorney so the client can ask pertinent questions about their care and case and the attorney can stay abreast on the status of the case. We also assign tasks through the online system to different paralegals so we can track the progress and keep the cases moving. The efficiency and constant communication keeps the clients happy.” —Armando Edmiston, a personal injury lawyer in Tampa
“I am an immigration attorney with an MBA in Project Management. When I decided to open my law firm, my focus was on optimizing resources—particularly, human resources—by dissecting steps of the process to expedite our work without compromising the integrity of the cases. So far, process improvement from answering the phones to post-closing of the cases is a work in progress as we learn new strategies to work more effectively. My background in Project Management has been the foundation in the evolution of our delivery of legal services.” —Renata Castro, an immigration attorney in Pompano Beach, Florida
“I require that everyone in our practice use Todoist to track, delegate, and organize tasks. There is so much information flowing in and out with regards to our individual cases that it’s imperative to have one central place for everything.” —Todd A. Spodek, a criminal defense, matrimonial, and family law attorney in NYC
“We utilize project management software to help us answer the classic business question of ‘Who does what by when?’ Our firm believes in the power of systems, checklists, and single points of accountability. Project management software allows us to put those beliefs into action.” –Kenneth Berger, a personal injury attorney and author in Columbia, South Carolina
Kristin Johnson is an executive and corporate communications professional, and founder of KSJ Communications, a communications and public relations firm. She consults with a diverse roster of clients spanning the technology, professional services, financial services, public sector, consumer, and healthcare industries. In addition to Rocket Matter, Johnson writes for various other publications as well.