General counsel are naturals at project management, even though they may not realize it.
It’s like the kid who has a natural pitching arm, but only throws rocks. They need to get out of the corn field and onto the playing field.
At a time when more law firms have project managers, companies need in-house lawyers with comparable skills. It’s about managing the teams.
Law practice management duties are not the sole responsibility of outside counsel.
“From the perspective of law departments, LPM requires a definitive commitment from outside counsel before work begins, provides in-house counsel with insurance that outside counsel is committed to controlling legal expenses and avoids the need for day-to-day oversight of their work,” write Scott Rosenberg and David Rueff.
As software solutions have changed law practice — with ediscovery and other electronic services — general counsel have to be particularly keen about personnel. It takes more than lawyers; it takes a team of professionals.
Legal, management, financial, and technical skills might be required. General counsel assembles the in-house team, and monitors the outside team.
In the corporate world, legal consultant Harrison Barnes says, every endeavor can be seen as a project. That includes legal matters.
“It should have a definite beginning and a predictable definite end,” he writes for Law Crossing. “It has to be measured and assessedwhether objectives have been reached or objectives cannot be met.”
Whether it’s an inside job or tasked otherwise, it goes beyond document management. Barnes says it includes:
- Planning and defining the scope of the project
- Coordinating resources, including human, financial or technical
- Identifying clear channels of communication
- Monitoring the work according to the plan
In-house counsel do not need to be the project managers, but managing projects comes with the turf.