We kind of backed into the idea of Legal Project Management (LPM) on the Legal Productivity blog, due to our perspective at the intersection of Business of Law Avenue and Technology Street at Rocket Matter. It seemed only natural to layer some of the techniques we use to manage our software delivery process onto the operation of law firms.
As it turns out, we’re newcomers to a growing field. Paul C. Easton and Steven Levy are two of the godfathers of online legal project management discourse, with lively, current blogs and a spirit of engagement.
Mr. Levy, who writes Lexician and also authored a book Legal Project Management: Control Costs, Meet Schedules, Manage Risks, and Maintain Sanity. To get a sense of his style, he recently wrote an interesting piece involving one of my favorite companies, Netflix and the company they helped bring down, Blockbuster. Mr. Levy, who borrows heavily from literature when writing, remarks about the decline of this once ubiquitous video giant:
I could go on, but ultimately it’s the failure of change management that stands out.
They didn’t respond to their competition, to the changing business environment. That’s the most important thing I learned about building an effective business strategy, to see it in an evolving context of competition and ensure that we’re ready to change ourselves as the environment changes, maybe even getting out and leading the change.
The environment changed, first with DVD-by-mail and then with DVD-for-a-buck. Blockbuster responded late, or not at all.
And why should they have responded? They had a business model that worked. Netflix-style would cut into their profits, negate their investment in leased or owned real estate.
The analogy for current law firm business models doesn’t need to be spellled out much more clearly.
Mr. Easton has a deep nuts and bolts understanding of the application of project management techniques. His blog, at legalprojectmanagement.info, is an incredibly rich source of information relating to the how’s and why’s of implementing legal project management in a methodical and disciplined way. His musings on LPM specifics, including certifications and e-discovery implementations is impressive with its level of detail. You can tell by the way he relates information that this is a guy with his ear to the ground who’s rolled up his sleeves, worked through some tough problems, and offers take-aways to those willing to listen.
In addition to sharing detailed knowledge on techniques and tactics, his blog serves as a portal of information for all things LPM. His weekly “LPM Tidbits” post is a great wrap up of information of everything going on in the field. For example, through Mr. Easton’s blog, I’ve learned about exciting thought-leaders such as Jim Hassett, who writes the Legal Business Development blog.
Mr. Hassett is apparently another godfather of Legal Business ideas, so I look forward to exploring his interesting ideas and discover more interesting Legal Project Management thinkers.