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Based on a delightful and wide-ranging conversation with Pratik Patel from Elevate about Legal Project Management (LPM), we were able to boil the LPM Challenge down to a single phrase. We were talking about what clients are demanding in terms of pricing and transparency. And how clients are pushing for more project management tools and efforts from their outside firms. But more importantly, clients are starting to ask for more meaningful answers to their LPM requests.

Of course this also lead to discussing how lawyers struggle with LPM and PM in general, always citing the unpredictability of legal matters. And here’s the rub – the lawyers are both right and wrong. Yes – legal matters are unpredictable, but clients still want to see meaningful implementations of LPM with their outside firms. Clients really want to see improved efficiencies from their law firms. They want better evidence that their matters are being handled in the most cost effective manner and they are looking to LPM as evidence this is occurring.

Previously I would have argued about lack of scope and how lawyers and clients don’t engage in out-of-scope conversations. This is obviously still the case. But instead, this time the conversation centered on efficiency and unpredictability.

So here’s the $64 phrase: Law firms need to demonstrate efficiency in the midst of unpredictability.

Unpredictability, poor scope, no scope … are all part of the landscape. Court hearings will be postponed. Closing dates will be moved. Motions will be filed. But through all of this, clients still want to see their work being completed Better, Faster and Cheaper.

So the real trick for LPM is finding the best way to demonstrate this to clients. Just telling them you are more efficient is not good enough. Firms will have to be able to functionally demonstrate it. Now this is no small task. But I suggest knowing what the challenge is in such a simple way is a great starting point.