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A recent question about implementing Legal Project Management (LPM) at law firms brought my thinking into focus. Although I had generally been approaching LPM this way, I had not articulated quite as clearly … until now.

The usual questions I get center on my advice for how a firm should roll out LPM. Should they hire certified project managements? Should they train associates on LPM? Should they train all lawyers on LPM? Should they invest in legal specific PM technology?

My new answer is  … Yes.

Which is the short answer for … It Depends.

And what that really means is that LPM will take a different shape in different circumstances. For one practice embedded certified PMs will make the most sense. In another practice it might be training senior associates.

The real point here is that a firm should be cautious about narrowing its LPM approach at the macro level. It should let the needs of the practice determine how LPM evolves. Different practices and even different clients will have unique needs. This means firms will need to be flexible in their approach to LPM. They will want to have doors open to each approach and not commit entirely to one or another. Perhaps over time one approach will surface as the standard, but until then I suggest firms not impose what could potentially be a a litigation solution on a transactional practice.

This is my standard theme: It’s about the conversation. Just as I suggest talking with clients about their fee needs, I also suggest similar conversations with practice group leaders to determine their needs. We better make sure we understand the problem before we propose a solution – or more appropriately in this case – solutions.