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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance

Innovation Insights

Working together to professionalise legal project management part three

In a blog earlier this year, we introduced the newly formed Legal Project Management Network - a collaborative, not-for-profit group to help LPMs find solutions for common challenges around skillsets, development opportunities and career paths. Ross Freeguard, Senior Legal Project Manager, revealed the network's plan to hold several in-person and virtual events throughout 2022. The first of these took place in early May. Despite some 'opening night nerves' and the irrational anticipation that nobody would turn up, over 90 people attended in person, with leading law firms well represented both in-person and online.

The event focused on three key areas: the LPM competency framework, law firm expectations and what the network's focus should be in the future. This was then followed by a networking opportunity at Ashurst's London office.

"Meeting for the first time this diverse group of LPMs from multiple backgrounds, firms and in-house teams, there was an underlying feeling of a fellowship. This felt like a group of people who wanted to engage and, through collective efforts, bring positive improvements to the LPM profession and have fun along the way." Kevin O'Sullivan, Director of LPM, Baker McKenzie

The LPM competency framework

The first session of the conference was facilitated by Helga Butcher, Interim Head of Legal Project Management and Process Improvement (EMEA) at Ashurst, who talked through the Framework and how to apply the Framework to all levels across Legal Project Management.

The Competency Framework has been designed to work as an industry-standard in collaboration with market-leading LPM functions, including law firms, clients and the Association for Project Management. Once this is adopted as the industry standard, the function can base all training and skills development around a consistent framework.

You can download a copy of the Competency framework here or contact any of the Legal Project Management Network administrators displayed on the LinkedIn page if you have any questions or comments.

"It was great to see our growing and diverse Legal Project Management community come together for our first live event, fostering an engaging debate on topics and challenges we all share in our various roles. The event served to create a real sense of community and support which we will use to harness the positive impact of LPM." Helga Butcher.

Law firm expectations

Session two was a fireside chat facilitated by Aaran Scott with LPMs Natasha Hussain from Ashurst and Joe Ward from Pinsent Masons. Aaran started the discussion by asking Natasha and Joe what law firms want from their legal project management teams and what they need to do to ensure they meet these expectations? Responses highlighted the requirement of an LPM to recognise how nuanced so much of the legal work is and to understand the pain points of the partners and lawyers. The ability of LPMs to apply a process and management mindset in real-time on matters, thereby enabling efficient delivery to clients in even the most pressured of circumstances, and the critical importance of influencing, relationship-building and resilience as part of an LPMs skillset, also featured in Natasha and Joe's responses.

Another topic discussed was what clients expect from their law firm's LPM functions. This gained vociferous participation from the audience, with some client in-house teams present to explain that enhanced "transparency" and "predictability" help their teams to gel and is an effective means of building further trust and winning repeat work.

"Hearing and looking across the industry, we all seem to experience very similar challenges, and through creativity and collective collaboration, we hope to help provide our firms and clients enhanced solutions", Aaran Scott, Director of Legal Project Management, Clifford Chance.

LPM network focus

Session three, facilitated by Kevin O'Sullivan of Baker McKenzie, asked the audience what they wanted the LPM Network to focus on. Once again, the audience was keen to add to the list of ideas already compiled with additional suggestions that included:

  • Increasing the voice of the client at future events,
  • A focus on professional development, collective problem solving and sharing best practices,
  • Exploring how and where technology will impact the future role of an LPM.

These suggestions, amongst many others, will be evaluated, prioritised and considered as agenda items for future events.

Event reaction

Special thanks to Ross Freeguard, Lisa Combs, Rob White, Joe Ward, Dee Tamlin, Kate Basset, Helga Butcher and Kevin O'Sullivan, who all played a significant role in getting this up and running. The event attendance, participation and collaboration far exceeded our expectations, and feedback from attendees was universally positive, highlighting the gap this Network is filling:

A truly professional event and just what the LPM community currently needs.

An opportunity to meet like-minded people and share best practices”.

The next event is being planned before the end of 2022. If you’d like to find out more, you can sign-up to the Legal Project Management Network using this link and start receiving communications on upcoming activities.

This is a continuation of our three part article series, here you can view part one and part two.

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