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Avoiding irrelevance of Prince II for legal project management certification

Prince II (Projects In Controlled Environments) is probably the world’s most popular structured project management method.  I am a certified Prince II practitioner and I value many of the concepts and principles contained in Prince II, such the emphasis on product based planning.

Prince II certification, especially in the U.K, has come to be regarded as a convenient baseline indicator of project management competence.  For example, most of the legal project manager vacancies advertised will ask candidates to provide evidence of ‘Prince II or equivalent’ to be considered for the role.

Prince II certification has become a tool for career advancement.  Unfortunately, certification is often acquired by cramming for the Prince II exams rather than being based on either practical application or a proper appreciation of how best to adapt the methodology to project demands found in different industry sectors, including legal services.


Tailoring Prince II for Legal Services

I’d suggest that Prince II is more applicable to legal service delivery in principle rather than practice.  To meet the demands of most legal matters Prince II needs to be adapted to such an extent that there is little left which is recognizably Prince II.

Axelos, the joint venture company owned by H.M Government and Capita responsible for the development of Prince II, recognise this problem (and it is one not confined to legal services).  In January it announced that there will be a significant update to Prince II in the middle of 2017, with renewed emphasis on how best to tailor Prince II.  I look forward to finding out more about the proposed update in due course.


International Institute of Legal Project Management (IILPM)

Meanwhile, I expect to become further involved in the the International Institute of Legal Project Management (IILPM).

The IILPM has been created to promote the global development of legal project management, including the creation and curation of methods, standards and certifications in legal project management.

I sit on the IILPM’s Global Advisory Council.


Competency Based Certification

IILPM accredited training courses and certifications are all anchored to a clear understanding of competencies required to function effectively as part of a legal service delivery team and to lead such a team.

As part of its research into competency standards, the IILPM:

  1. Reviewed competency standards in project management and law (such as those published by the Association for Project Management, the Project Management Institute and the Solicitors Competence Statement published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority);
  2. Examined HR material published by law firms around the world seeking legal project managers and related professionals;
  3. Conducted its own research survey, which attracted responses from thought leaders (including heads of law firm legal project management departments) based in nine countries.

The result of all this was the publication of the Legal Project Management Competency Framework (LPMCF) by the IILPM.


Avoiding Prince II Replication

One of the survey respondents, a well-known senior change management professional who has led project driven change in several U.K law firms, noted

Agree with [competency] levels but unconvinced by certification.  Don’t want to replicate the irrelevance of Prince II qualifications.

The challenge to the IILPM, and one it accepts, is to convince the legal project management community about the relevance of the certifications it has created.


IILPM Certifications

The IILPM can award two legal project management certifications, known as the Legal Project Associate (LPA) and Legal Project Practitioner (LPP).

The LPA is aimed at legal service team members and may be awarded to candidates who have attended two days (14 hours) training provided by IILPM Accredited Training Providers (ATPs) who must, among other things, abide by the IILPM’s Code of Ethics.

The LPP is aimed at those who lead legal teams and / or are responsible for the operational delivery of legal services.  LPP certification may be awarded to practising lawyers or other professionals (most obviously legal project managers) who have worked in a legal service environment for at least one year and who have attended three days (21 hours) training provided by an IILPM ATP.

Currently ATP’s can be found in Australia, Spain, USA and the U.K (Legal Project Management Ltd).


Accredited Course Content

IILPM accredited courses leading to IILPM certifications must:

  1. Be rooted firmly in the context of delivering legal services
  2. Introduce the IILPM four-step legal project management framework
  3. Cover the PMI’s ten core knowledge areas of project management
  4. Include topics which the IILPM competency survey results confirmed as being of particular relevance to improving operational effectiveness of legal service delivery, ie,
    1. Process Improvement (including elements of design thinking)
    2. Application of Information Technology (IT) to help support and develop legal project management practices
    3. Agile techniques applied in the context of legal project management.
  5. Show how all of the above referenced knowledge, methods and techniques can be adapted to fit differing kinds of legal projects.

I suspect the effectiveness of this last element will greatly influence the success of the IILPM certifications.  I am confident we can achieve success here as all current ATP’s are experienced lawyers and / or professional project managers with a history of teaching project management to a wide range of students.


Course Delivery

All IILPM ATPs must adhere to core course content if their students are to be awarded certification.  Clearly however, course delivery will vary a little, reflecting jurisdictional requirements and trainer preferences.

A key part of all my courses is the workshop element.  Even my shortest introductory course (half a day) contains some workshop time.

Experience has shown me that active participation the best way for people to learn.  So if (as I hope you do) you attend any of my courses, please come prepared to participate!


Relevance to Legal Service Delivery

All IILPM ATPs share a determination to provide courses which are practical, relevant and based on a clear understanding of the competencies required to deliver legal services effectively.  We are striving to avoid irrelevant content and certification.

With this in mind, if you would like any further information, please contact me.

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