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Project management, process improvement and pricing of legal services

An increasing number of traditional law firms and new market entrants are putting effort into creating an operating model for legal service delivery which involves:

  • Process improvement – streamlining all core support and legal delivery processes
  • Task automation – invariably using IT systems, such as workflow, to achieve this
  • Pricing sophistication – applying a mix of pricing techniques ranging from the billable hour to true value pricing
  • Project management – with the focus on applying project management techniques to deliver legal services.

For all of the elements listed above to be implemented successfully, good project management skills are needed.  Few people would now consider implementing a sophisticated IT system without the project being managed properly. The same should hold also true for process improvement and pricing initiatives. It follows that, taken together, all of the components listed in the model above amount to a progamme.

The Association of Project Management Management (APM) Body of Knowledge, 6th edition, defines programme management as

…the co-ordinated management of projects and change management activities to achieve beneficial change.

It goes on to say that

Typically, the desired benefits are initially identified within a business case that justifies the necessary investment.

I routinely ask people involved in legal service delivery improvement programmes what their vision for success is. I am constantly surprised by the number of people who can’t explain what success looks like from their point of view.

So how might the operational model above work in practice? Most importantly, how might it work from a client’s point of view?

My visualization is summarised in the video presentation below.  Please have a look and let me know what you think.

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