After many years of attention to LPM in law firms, CLOC determined to bring the discipline of project management to corporate legal operations professionals by launching an initiative in 2017. Significant valuable materials were developed and appear on the CLOC website at cloc.org.
The CLOC LPM framework applies to matters handled exclusively by in-house counsel, internal legal operations projects, matters handled exclusively by outside counsel, and projects where in-house counsel collaborate with law ﬁrms and other external service providers and emphasizes communication and adding value.
Under the leadership of Aileen Leventon (Edge International) and David Rueff (BakerDonelson) participants in the CLOC LPM Initiative and CLOC members have created a 5-part webinar series starting on March 8, 2019 that provides practical tools that CLOC members can use immediately.
We are honored to have had the pleasure of working with nearly 30 members of the legal ecosystem who participated in the creation of this initiative led by: Larry Bridgesmith (Legal Alignment), Patrick Ellis (General Motors), Aileen Leventon (Edge International), Pratik Patel (Elevate), Scott Rosenberg (LegalShift),and David Rueff (Baker Donelson).
Members of the LPM Initiative Team (2016 – 2018):
Danny Kotlowitz, Telstra
Mick Sheehy, Telstra
Verity White, Telstra
Lisa Goodman, Telstra
Lisa Brown, Starbucks
Marisa Flores, Starbucks
Nicole Bergknoff, Raymond James
Christopher Ende, GE
Karen Helten, Kaiser Permanente
Greg Kaple, Kaiser Permanente
Mary McKay, GAPAC
Connie Brenton, NetApp
Karen Murakami, Verizon
Rick Kathuria, Gowling WLG
Kevin Bielawski, Husch Blackwell
Janelle Belling, Perkins Coie
Brendan McInerney, Dorsey & Whitney LLP
Lynne Maher, Hunton & Williams LLP
Stuart Dodds, Baker Mckenzie
Gavin Gray, Baker Mckenzie
Andy Daws, Riverview Law
Brian Pike, Riverview Law
Liam Brown, Elevate Services
Dan Safran, LegalShift
Susan Lambreth, LawVision Group
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The legal industry now places efficiency on equal footing with quality. In response, law firms consistently throw around terms like legal project management, agile, scrum, process improvement, Lean and Six Sigma. But is a label enough to demonstrate an ability to manage work efficiently? Is something more needed?
This webinar will investigate new and progressive measures, regardless of labels, that can demonstrate an outside counsel’s commitment to efficiency and will provide you with an important take-a-way, a scorecard that you can immediately implement to both measure your outside counsel and help them improve. Links to materials for download—presentation and scorecard–can be found below.
Legal Project Management Officer
LPM Manager – Business and Health Law
Managing Director and Corporate Counsel
LegalShift, Inc. announced that is pleased to sponsor the Association of Intellectual Property Firms (AIPF) 2018 Annual Meeting in Chicago on September 26-28. LegalShift will present a Boutique Practice Session entitled, “Legal Project Management Essentials: Learn How to Align Client Expectations with Practice Efficiencies and Profitability.” The session is an in-depth analysis of Legal Project Management (LPM) concepts an the practical application of these concepts. Participants in this interactive workshop will form into working groups and engage in guided, hands-on, collaborative exercises to apply LPM “best practices” in the operation of an IP boutique. Each participant will depart with a working knowledge of LPM discipline and with the ability to immediately apply these concepts and techniques. For more on the event, visit https://aipf.com/event-2689725
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You have a well-constructed budget and routinely check actuals against it, but your case or transaction is rapidly approaching or already exceeds initial projections. Legal clients don’t like such surprises, especially cost overruns. Properly monitoring and controlling a legal project, often called a “matter”, requires adherence to the triple constraints of scope, budget and time. Managing to these assumptions can be tricky as the facts of the matter may change, in turn affecting the scope, budget, and/or timeline. If not communicated properly, this often results in uncomfortable conversations with clients requesting a budget increase or timeline extension.
Unlike other industries whose project management fundamentals are more mature and formal, perceptions as to the current state of a legal matter are too often determined by actual cost (AC)—i.e., how much money has been spent to date—against the matter budget (more formally referred to as budget at completion (BAC)). However, this type of informal “budget to actual” analysis can—and will—cause misleading performance measurement and an inability to properly control costs. For example, let’s assume that we are $20,000 into a $40,000 project. On a superficial level, things look good because we have not overspent. This analysis typically represents the full extent of legal matter cost assessment and status reporting. In fact, we have very little information regarding:
How much work have we actually completed? (we already easily know what’s been spent)
Have we got to where we want to be?
When are we going to finish?
To answer these questions, we must turn to a more structured approach for monitoring progress against the constraints of the project/matter. This is needed so that preventative measures can be taken to avoid budget overages and ensure schedule adherence. Fortunately, such an approach has already adopted and in wide use in many other industries. Called Earned Value Management, or EVM, this form of financial analysis has become a significant branch of project and cost management. The importance of EVM can be exemplified by the fact that in 1991, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney canceled the Navy A-12 Avenger II Program due to performance issues detected by EVM. For those who claim that “you cannot manage what you cannot measure,” a clear grasp of EVM principles and their institutionalized application to legal matters and projects is essential.
The project schedule shows how you are progressing on your timeline. The Billing or Accounting department tells you where you are in regard to budget. Ultimately, we want to determine how far along we are in completing the scope of work, referred to as earned value.
There are several guiding principles when performing EVM analysis. To properly monitor and control your project using EVM, you must first plan for two things:
Budget at Completion (BAC) is the total scope of work to be performed and its associated cost—i.e., the matter budget
Planned Value (PV) is the matter budget at the current point on the schedule. It answers the question “how much work should have been completed at a given point in time” (e.g., 1/12 of the budget in 1 mo.)
For example, a hypothetical real estate acquisition has work allocated as follows:
The matter budget is $40,000
Expected timeline is 7 weeks
4 weeks (A) have elapsed so 70% (B)of work should be completed (first two phases)
PV = $40,000 X 70% or $32,045
In monitoring ongoing project status, we must then determine:
Percent Complete as of the reporting date
Actual Costs as of the reporting date
Actual Cost (AC) is the cost to date.
Billing department says $15,000 has been billed and $5,000 is in WIP
AC = $15,000 + $5,000 = $20,000
Once these values are known, we can then determine earned value:
Earned Value (EV) is the value of the completed work.
Budget for the matter is $40,000
The attorney team has completed the first phase – Fact Gathering/Due Diligence
4 weeks have elapsed but only 30% of work has been completed
EV = $40,000 X 30% or $12,000
Using the metrics above, it becomes very simple to objectively answer such questions as:
Is the matter on schedule? In project management terms, this is called the Schedule Performance Index (SPI). The formula for SPI is EV / PV. If SPI > 1, the project is ahead of schedule. If SPI < 1, the project is behind schedule.
Using the above examples:
EV = $12,000
PV = $32,045
SPI = $12,000/$32,045 or .37
Since SPI < 1, project is behind schedule
Is the matter on budget? This is called the Cost Performance Index (CPI). The formula is EV / AC. If CPI > 1, the project is under budget. If CPI < 1, the project is over budget.
Using the above examples:
EV = $12,000
AC = $20,000
CPI = 12,000/$20,000 or .6
Since CPI < 1, project is over budget
What will it cost to complete the entire project? This is referenced as Estimate At Completion (EAC). The formula is Budget at Completion (BAC) / CPI.
$40,000 / .6 = $66,666
A NEW, MORE THOROUGH APPROACH
Amazing as it may seem, EVM is not highly utilized in today’s law firms or law departments. Perhaps that is because EVM requires some additional effort in the planning stage of a case or transaction, and lawyers are loathe to engage in planning (focusing instead on execution). Yet, EVM’s adoption clearly provides a far more proactive matter management approach versus the basic “budget to actuals” reporting currently favored by most legal organizations. It is, in fact, an essential Legal Project Management tool whose metrics and calculations allow legal teams to proactively and quantitatively manage their matters and assess the performance of their vendors.
As an industry, let’s begin to institutionalize EVM and other project management best practices to really understand and control project success
Carey Lambert is a Senior Consultant with LegalShift, LLC. Carey has over 30 years in Project Management and is a PMI certified Project Manager, Six Sigma BlackBelt and Lean certified. He can be reached at (601) 227-4301 or email@example.com
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