The Rise of Legal Project Management

The Importance of project management to law firms



By Tzuyu Lai

SKEMA Business School

Taiwan and France



We can’t ignore the rise of legal project management; however, we have to understand how important it is, and what are the advantages if we apply legal project management in law firms.

In the paper, we see through the definitions of legal project management and the application of project management in the law industry. After we get the main concepts, we refer to criteria which are important to evaluate a law firm’s performance to discover how important it is for lawyers and law firms to apply legal project management. Through MADM (Non-dimensional data technique), by methods of quantitative and qualitative analysis, we compare the different ways to manage law firms. Finally, we conclude that to train your in-house lawyers with project management knowledge would be the best alternative for law firms, especially for a large law firm dealing international cases.

Keywords: Legal project management (LPM), project management, risk management, plan, cost control


Have you heard of Legal project management? It is a new trend among law firms, to run the firm with project management.[1] The goal of a law firm is to offer the work with high quality via efficient team work with limited budget and time, therefore it would be important for lawyers, partners of law firms to realize the importance to practice professional project management in their daily work.

For legal industry, to run a law firm, the company needs to take care of each project. “Legal project management (LPM) can be thought of as fitting between legal processes and legal practice management”.[2] In legal project management, the aims are to reduce waste and improve efficiency, and organizing and developing broad programs.

When organizations practice LPM with right direction, LPM can provide program management, helping to manage several strategically related projects.

According to the Guild, there are four types of programs: strategic programs, operational programs, multi-project programs, and mega projects. For legal industry, it can be multi-project programs and operational programs, since the existence of legal project management is to minimize the negative effect on suit case also get the benefits from synergies of multiple projects.

For larger law firms, they might start to strategically manage multiple programs when the program management gets mature. It can also be portfolio management.

“The objective being to minimize the risk and optimize the return,”[3] a portfolio of projects can be used to develop the best outcome of projects via “mix“ of projects that generate the preferable returns on assets.

An asset is either tangible or intangible, which law firms own and expect to bring future benefits. For a law firm, each lawsuit case is regarded as a project, and when a law firm has more than one case from the same client, we can consider it an operational program.

And for law firms which only focus on specialized areas, for example the firms only taking divorce cases, all the cases are relevant, then we can assume it is a portfolio.

There are many positions in law firms; all the human resources are viewed as their assets.  Furthermore, the reputation, equipment, fixed cost, cash flow, and initial investments are law firms’ portfolio assets. Especially the reputation for law firms and individual lawyers which they work so hard to get is an important intangible asset.

According to the Guild of Project Controls’ compendium and reference, “a contract is an agreement between two or more competent parties in which an offer is made and accepted, and each party benefits’’[4]

Furthermore, we can see that the elements needed to be a contract are offer, acceptance, exchange, capacity, legality.

In a case between a client and law firm, it includes all of the above; therefore, we view each case as a contract, and law firms sign contracts with clients in the first stage after consultation. Contracts between lawyers and clients are Contracts by specialty or under seal.

As we can see from the research, more and more law firms offer the position of legal project manager due to their awareness of how it will impact positively on their relationship with clients, also the efficiency and accuracy of lawsuits. By using project management, law firms get benefits in aspects of litigation, transactions, compliance work. Each case is a project, or a program depending on the scope, for lawyers. Lawyers need to know what clients want from them, how much time they will have to reach the goal, and what resources they can use during the litigation. When law firms try to reach the goal, they will have to manage many plans and people involved. Clients prefer to consult in a law firm which can help them comprehensively with better price and quicker service.  Therefore, law firms normally have strong connections with other firms to ensure their service is beyond the standard. And that requires portfolio / project management.

We all know that project management is being practiced in many kinds of industries.  For law firms, the cases are increasingly complex, especially the cross-border lawsuits and commercial lawsuits. Lawyers need to be a scheduled consultant for their clients, some of them realized if they proceed the litigation including the preparation in a more structured, disciplined way, the possibility to succeed within budget and time limit is higher. As a result, the rise of legal project management is for sure in this decade.   In the paper, we will figure out why it is important for law firms to adequate project management and how we conduct project management in law firms.


To read entire paper, click here


Editor’s note: This paper was prepared for the course “International Contract Management” facilitated by Dr Paul D. Giammalvo of PT Mitratata Citragraha, Jakarta, Indonesia as an Adjunct Professor under contract to SKEMA Business School for the program Master of Science in Project and Programme Management and Business Development.  http://www.skema.edu/programmes/masters-of-science. For more information on this global program (Lille and Paris in France; Belo Horizonte in Brazil), contact Dr Paul Gardiner, Global Programme Director [email protected].

How to cite this paper: Lai, T. (2019). The Rise of Legal Project Management: Importance of project management to law firms, PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue II (February). Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/pmwj79-Feb2019-Lai-the-rise-of-legal-project-management.pdf


About the Author

Tzuyu Lai

Paris, France




Tzuyu Lai is a student in SKEMA Business school for her master degree of Project and programme management and business development. She has a bachelor’s degree in law from Chengchi University (NCCU, Taiwan), during her five years of university, she went to University of Seoul, Korea and University of Konstanz, Germany as exchange student. Afterwards, she did internships in an E-commerce startups as a marketing assistant.

The experience broadened her mind and made her decide to come to France for her Master’s degree. As an international talent, she is willing to take any challenge out of her comfy zone. She is interested in working in an international environment and a career that combines her bachelor and master background. She has training on PRINCE2, Agile, CAPM and other project management knowledge in her master’s degree program.

She lives in Paris France, and she can be contacted by [email protected] or by Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/tzuyu-lai/


[1] Clasen, S. (2018, May 4). The Profitable Benefits of Legal Project Management. Retrieved from https://www.attorneyatwork.com/the-profitable-benefits-of-legal-project-management/

[2] Ruhl, J. B. (2017, August 9). The Rise of legal project management. Retrieved from https://www.americanbar.org/groups/young_lawyers/publications/tyl/topics/law-practice-2050/rise-legal-project-management/\

[3] Guild of project controls compendium and reference. Retrieved from http://www.planningplanet.com/guild/GPCCAR-modules

[4] A. Lowery  (2014, July 2). Guild of project controls compendium and reference. Retrieved from http://www.planningplanet.com/guild/GPCCAR-modules