Is Legal Project Management Really Different than Project Management?

June 8, 2011 LPM is a significant and independent variant of standard PM due to the legal environment in which lawyers operate. Equating the two would be like saying that since a horse has four legs and a dog has four legs, a dog is a horse.

One of the primary goals of PM is to reduce variation. That’s perfect for turning out car fenders on an assembly line. PM is also aimed at collaborative efforts to achieve goals set forth in a Project Charter. So, it is excellent for planning linear processes, like software or systems development, where a team is working toward a singular goal.

For those of us who have practiced law, those PM goals don’t work in real-world legal trenches. Law is inherently different from manufacturing and IT. In litigation, for example, you have an opposing counsel whose efforts, intellect and time are spent trying to frustrate, defeat, and unseat all your efforts. There is no single team all working to create a fender or a software installation. Instead, you have clashing, opposing forces that are paid (handsomely!) to think of and effect ways to undo the gains of the other side. In a software installation, for example, this would be like having someone erase programming code and toss the computers out the window every night after a day’s work.

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