Some recent posts on the hot and getting hotter topic of Legal Project Management (LPM) somehow reactivated some dormant college brain cells. After ‘enjoying’ 10 years of Economics I did my best to suppress those memories, but yet they still seem to pop up at the oddest times.
The concepts that came to mind were market requirements and differentiators. A market requirement is an asset or skill required to be a participant in a given market. If you’re a ditch digger, a shovel and the ability to dig would be market requirements. A differentiator might be an extra sharp shovel for digging in hard rock. In a market – a requirement gets you in; a differentiator gets you hired.
LPM, as such a new concept is an obvious differentiator – for the future. But my thought is that there is actually an immediate differentiator to consider when buying legal services. In my experience, some lawyers have innate project management skills, or they may have picked them up in a prior professional life. In any event, these lawyers know how to manage a legal matter to a budget and thus have a significant market differentiator right now.
If you’re a client, now is the time to look for these differentiated lawyers. You probably already know some, but may not have thought of them in this way:
Requirement: Excellent legal skills
Differentiator: Good project manager
As a client – recognizing and rewarding this differentiating factor may do more to reach your goal of saving on legal fees than discounts and AFAs will – especially in the short-run.

  • I've actually just had a question about the difference between traditional project management and legal project management answered. You can find the question and the answer here.

  • Toby, please accept my sincere apologies for triggering painful, suppressed memories from your youth. Perhaps you can take comfort in the fact that your observations give hope to all legal project managers. I always knew we were "different," but now I know we are more than that, we are "differentiators!" That has a MUCH better ring to it. Thanks for the great post and for linking to my blog.