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5 Legal Project Management Tips for Lawyers

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. | Last updated on

Knowing the law is one thing, being able to get legal work done well and efficiently is another. And plenty of attorneys could use a little help in the latter category. The solution may be in project management. Learning a few PM skills like effective team communication, budget management, and matter scoping can all help attorneys do their jobs better.

Here are some helpful project management tips you can start implementing today.

1. Plan, Execute, Confer, Repeat

Project management is an iterative process. You can rarely start with a single roadmap and just follow it straight through to the end; too often something unexpected comes along to force you to reevaluate and shift your plans. So, as you guide a matter along, keep this in mind. Plan your strategy from the get go, get started with it, but make sure to confer and adjust as things proceed.

2. Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Goal setting should be at the heart of your project planning. What will you get done, by when, at what cost, and with what likely outcomes? But goal setting shouldn't just be brainstorming. You want your goals to be specific, not amorphous. Something you can hold yourself and others accountable for.

Instead of setting goals, set S.M.A.R.T. goals. That stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, and Time-based. We know, the acronym sounds like corporate jargon, but it's a good way to ensure useful goal setting as you plan and execute a project.

3. Meet and Communicate

The more people working on a matter, the harder it can be to make sure everything is getting done in a timely fashion. And that's not just a concern for cases where there's a team of ten associates; a solo attorney managing investigators and paralegals and experts can easily lose the forest for the trees as well. The solution is regular communication. Meeting regularly to review the status of a matter and any new issues that may have arising, making any necessary changes to your plans as you go.

4. Educate Yourself

Some big firms have professional PM consultants, dedicated project managers, and more. Most lawyers probably don't need all that infrastructure, however. But almost all attorneys could benefit from a bit of PM education, and there's plenty of that available online. Capterra's roundup of online project management courses is a good place to start.

5. Evaluate

Once a matter is concluded, take a moment to reflect. Were there areas in the project scoping that could have been improved? Did communication make it easier to keep on top of the matter? Was the client satisfied? Use your answers to these questions to inform your approach going forward.

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