Helping you improve your project management capability.
Antony Smith – Director, Legal Project Management Ltd
Even as a young solicitor I seemed to gravitate more to organisational improvement rather than direct client work. I have always been fascinated about how the blend of individual skills, process execution and organisational support come together to realise a vision. In fact I must confess to being something of a frustrated film director at heart!
Lawyers are clearly being challenged to deliver legal services in new ways. Applying project management principles to legal service delivery allows lawyers to meet these challenges.
I have a background in law, project management and legal I.T. By putting these together, I help lawyers improve the delivery of their legal services. I help them realise their vision of excellence.
Creating more effective law firms with project management
The U.K’s largest law firms now employ full-time legal project managers, working alongside their lawyer colleagues. I have for a long time believed that legal project management is applicable to all law firms, not only the very largest, and all lawyers. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) agrees (with reference to solicitors).
In its Statement of Competence for Solicitors, the SRA describes many tasks expected to be performed by all solicitors in terms of project management. For example, the Statement refers to solicitors ‘meeting timescales, resource requirements and budgets’ (for more please see Section D of the Competence Statement). This sounds like a high level definition of ‘a project’ to me.
Developing lawyers’ project management skills is just one aspect of creating an effective project based legal service organisation. I believe all of the following are required:
1. Tools – ranging from document templates to software applications.
2. Methods and Processes – standard matter project plans supported by lower level processes and activities.
3. Skills – of both lawyers and support staff, working together as productive teams.
4. Organisational Project Maturity – to help ensure that the project delivery capability of the firm continues to grow.
The ultimate aim is not to become better at legal project management per se, but for lawyers to become more effective and clients to become happier with the service they receive. Happier clients are more likely to pay their bills quicker, instruct their law firm with more work and provide referrals.
My professional journey
I am a solicitor by training, with postgraduate qualifications in law, computing and project management. I am a Legal Project Practitioner (LPP) and a founder member of the International Institute for Legal Project Management (IILPM) where I sit on its Global Advisory Council. I am also qualified in the Prince II project management methodology (practitioner level) and I am a full member of the Association for Project Management (APM) and the Project Management Institute (PMI).
I have a record of successful project delivery in all kinds of legal environments: solicitors firms (Pinsent Masons, Berrymans Lace Mawer), academia (School of Law, King’s College London) and legal software development organisations. I enjoyed working as a Strategic Project Manager at Axxia / LexisNexis for more than 10 years.
Since 2012 I have been an independent consultant, providing project management services to law firms. I also write regularly about legal project management. PDFs of some published articles can be downloaded from here, and you can find my blog site’s home page here and subscribe to my blog posts here.
What am I like to work with?
People tend to describe me as being an enthusiastic, honest, hardworking individual with a sense of humour. I come from Liverpool originally which may help explain the latter. I am an objective and considered thinker, with a preference for basing decisions on facts followed by thoughtful analysis. My default mode is to turn initiatives into plans with objectives, and this is perhaps why I have also been called a ‘completion expert’. I have over 30 years experience of working in the legal services market and I understand what it takes for individuals and organisations to succeed in that market.
This understanding underpins my legal project management training. My training reflects the need for effective delivery of legal services, as practised in the real world by solicitors, barristers, in-house lawyers, government lawyers, cost lawyers, professional support lawyers and business development staff. I really enjoy running legal project management training courses and feedback from students shows they enjoy it too. My courses are comprehensive, intensive and at times challenging. They are great learning experiences and we all enjoy a few laughs along the way.
Away from legal project management I also enjoy sports, especially golf. Playing golf the way I do (ie badly) a sense of humour is essential, although I must confess to spending quite a lot of time practising the game. I just don’t like doing anything half-hearted. This also partly explains why I have a black belt in Karate. As noted above, I like to complete things and a black belt was a clear objective.
How can I help you?
Enough about me. What about you? How can I help you?
If you would like to discuss any aspect of Legal Project Management, I’d be delighted to hear from you.
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