Working together to professionalise legal project management
In the six years that the Legal Project Management (LPM) function has been established in Clifford Chance, law firms and clients have recognised the value that LPM can offer, and many have been building their capability in this area. However, as the LPM discipline matures, expectations across all stakeholders are rising, as early adopters grapple with all the challenges of a swiftly evolving profession.
Aaran Scott, was the first LPM recruited into the Clifford Chance London office and is now, six years later, leading the global function comprising 50 professionals across 14 offices. In this role, Aaran is well placed to recognise and help respond to the challenges and opportunities the profession is facing: "We're all seeing fierce competition for talent, with LPMs switching from firm to firm, creating instability and holding back our ability to maximise value for our partners and clients. The competition for talent is not helpful for any of us, firms or clients, in what is a relatively small and embryonic profession." Aaran Scott.
Over the last several months Aaran and many of the senior LPMs, have been contributing to several autonomous global initiatives, established to help LPM functions across the sector learn from each other and work together on the concept that "a rising tide lifts all boats" (John F. Kennedy attrib.) to support and mature the embryonic profession. This is the first of two articles looking at how Aaran and members of Clifford Chance's LPM network are collaborating with peers to help professionalise Legal Project Management.
Law Vision Roundtable
One such initiative in early 2021 was a Law Vision Roundtable, at which Aaran presented a case study on Building and Scaling a Legal Project Management Function. Legal Project Management Roundtables are attended by a wide number of leading law firms and in-house legal departments with an aim of sharing best practice and enabling networking across project management in the field of law.
Following that presentation, Aaran was invited to present at the inaugural LPM Summit which had been set up by Law Vision and sponsors as a best practice forum for legal project management. 117 organisations registered including law firms from across the globe, ASLPs, law schools and corporations from, primarily, the financial services and pharma sectors who had set up their own in-house LPM functions.
Topics covered the whole lifecycle of establishing and embedding a new capability starting with A Roadmap for Getting Off to a Good Start. This was followed by several presentations on Driving Lawyer Buy-in and Adoption and Making Lawyers Lives Easier - A Day in the Life of a Legal Project Manager. There was a law school presentation on Tools in Scoping, Budgeting, and Planning Litigation Project Management and a final forward-looking presentation on the Future of Legal Services from the Big 4 Perspective.
Aaran was joined by Tracy Lau - previously an associate in the Banking practice and now a Clifford Chance senior LPM for the APAC region, who co-presented on Clifford Chance's experience of growing and establishing a global function. Tracy explains how inspiring she finds this type of event: "Our role at these events is to act as ambassadors of the firm, promote how we and our Innovation colleagues make a difference to our clients and with the delivery of legal services. After we had finished presenting, we stayed online to answer questions and saw great levels of engagement. We are all on the same journey and are facing, or have faced, the same challenges. It feels good to help those whose organisations are perhaps at an earlier stage of their LPM journey." Tracy Lau.
Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC)
Ever since CLOC opened to law firm membership, Aaran has been an active contributor to the legal project management committee and, specifically, on a subcommittee focusing on the matter lifecycle management. Members have been helping to define what is best practice from both a law firm and a client's in-house perspective; what are the right processes, the right procedures and templates. CLOC is now getting the materials ready to publish these to its members over the next few months.
Practising Law Institute
On 09 February, Aaran, joined Vennisa Amin (Head of LPM at Barclays) at the Practising Law Institute to discuss Client-Law Firm Collaboration – How LPM and Other Innovations are Driving Stronger Relationships. The event was attended by over 400 lawyers, with a mix of in-house and private practice lawyers. Their presentation focused on the common pain points of clients, how law firms are trying to solve for their clients' challenges and providing the audience with a set of practical tips on effective legal project management.
In our second article, we look at the role of the newly created LPM Network in widening the pool of talent coming in to the LPM market and establishing standard skills and competencies for legal project managers.