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5 posts from January 2015

January 28, 2015

A new alliance to improve pricing and legal project management

Press Release: January 28, 2015
Media Contacts: Scott Rosenberg, srosenberg@projectleadership.net, (312) 258-5318
  Jim Hassett, jhassett@legalbizdev.com, (617) 217-2578

Project Leadership Associates and LegalBizDev Announce a Strategic Alliance to Structure and Improve Visibility into Law Firm Pricing and Legal Project Management

CHICAGO, IL and BOSTON, MA.  Project Leadership Associates, specialists in legal business operations and technology solutions for more than 500 law firms and legal departments, and LegalBizDev, a leader in the emerging field of legal project management (LPM), today announced a new strategic alliance.

The two companies will collaborate with law firms to identify changes needed to succeed in today’s highly competitive marketplace. Through improvements in pricing, project management, and enhanced use of technology, law firms will be better able to provide their clients with increased value while protecting sustainable profit margins. 

The challenges that law firms face in this area have been documented in LegalBizDev Founder Jim Hassett’s recent book, Client Value and Law Firm Profitability, based on research interviews with 50 chairs, managing partners, and other leaders of AmLaw 200 firms.

To address these challenges, the two companies are now introducing Pricing Visibility℠ and Project Visibility℠ programs designed to standardize best practices and identify the processes, people, and technology that best fit each law firm’s needs and culture. The primary deliverables will be the development of playbooks and systems to be used in preparing bids and/or outlining the steps lawyers must take to manage matters throughout their lifecycle.

“We believe that over the next few years, effective pricing and project management will be the difference between success and failure for many law firms,” said Project Leadership Associates Executive Vice President Dan Safran. “We conducted extensive due diligence to identify tools that lawyers will actually use in developing pricing proposals and managing matters, instead of creating plans and processes that will sit on a shelf. We selected LegalBizDev as our partner in this venture due to their proven track record in helping lawyers to change their behavior and take action in these critically important areas.”

“People began talking seriously about legal project management just a few years ago, and to date our company has focused on getting firms started by producing internal champions and quick wins,” said LegalBizDev Founder and President Jim Hassett, Ph.D. “As the field began to mature, we were approached by a number of leading technology companies about forming partnerships. We declined them all, because we did not want to endorse a particular software solution at a time when both needs and products are changing rapidly. We were introduced to Project Leadership Associates through our joint relationship as strategic partners of Altman Weil. Once we learned about their history and approach and saw how they consulted to find just the right solution for each client rather than developing a single product which they attempted to sell to every firm, we knew that we had found the right partner for the next stage in LPM’s evolution.”

About Project Leadership Associates:  Project Leadership Associates (PLA) is the largest business and technology consulting provider focused on the legal market, in the United States. The company has consulted with over 500 law firm and corporate law departments in assessment and strategic planning, product selection, systems implementation, and operational improvement. With experience in all areas of legal practice and business operations, PLA’s seasoned consultants represent the “A-Team” of legal process and technology thought leadership and expertise. We are easy to work with, affordable to retain, practical in approach, and personally attentive. For more information please contact Project Leadership Associates at (877) 752-0451 or visit our web page.

About LegalBizDev:  LegalBizDev helps law firms increase client satisfaction and profitability by improving project management and business development. The company offers coaching, webinars, workshops, retreats, train the trainer programs, publications, and more to help each lawyer identify the action items that are most likely to produce immediate and practical results for their practice, their personality, and their schedule. Our behavior change processes help lawyers to make the best use of their limited time by quickly building on best practices from other law firms and other professions. For more information, visit our web page or call us today at (800) 49-TRAIN. 

One employment lawyer’s task list for a pre-complaint demand

A guest post by Judith Droz Keyes

Judith Droz Keyes is a labor and employment lawyer and partner at Davis Wright Tremaine who recently completed our Certified Legal Project Manager Program®.  This is the first of two blog posts based on her answers to essay questions from the program.

Legal project managers use the phrase “work breakdown structure” to refer to a kind of task list that organizes a matter into manageable units of work. This type of analysis can lead to consistent assurances of efficient, high quality legal work.

Below is a work breakdown structure for a task we perform for many clients, often under fixed fee arrangements:   handling pre-complaint demand letters through either settlement or mediation (regardless of whether there is a settlement), or our recommendation to the client that there not be a settlement.  (If a complaint is filed, the arrangement ceases and is replaced by a litigation arrangement.)

1.0  Preliminarily Evaluate Complaint

1.1 Investigate employee-complainant

1.1.1    Obtain from client and review personnel records (personnel file, benefits file, department file, payroll records)

1.1.2   Ascertain current employment status

1.1.3   Develop understanding of complainant as a person (age, race, length of employment, positions held, prior employment, “person to be notified in emergency,” Facebook)

1.2  Identify witnesses

1.2.1   Issue discovery hold to those still employed

1.2.2  Identify location and terms of separation of those not still employed

1.3  Investigate opposing counsel

1.3.1    Internet search

1.3.2    Internal resources (email to relevant group)

1.4  Investigate jurisdiction

1.4.1  Where did/does employee work?

1.4.2  What is likely venue of lawsuit?

2.0  Investigate Complaint

2.1  Identify managers/supervisors with first-hand knowledge

2.1.1  Schedule, and interview managers/supervisors (in-person, in a group)

2.1.2  Prepare outline of responses to specific allegations

2.2  Identify human resource personnel, or in-house counsel, with second-hand knowledge

2.2.1   Obtain their files

2.2.2   Interview them by telephone, if necessary

2.2.3   Prepare outline of information responsive to specific allegations

3.0      Contact Opposing Counsel

3.1  Telephone introduction

3.1.1  Schedule face-to-face meeting if practicable, telephone conversation if not practicable

3.1.2  Identify complainant’s settlement needs/demand

4.0    Evaluate Settlement Advice

4.1  Develop settlement recommendation

4.1.1  What it will cost to settle

4.1.2  Advantages and disadvantages to client for agreeing to what it will cost

4.1.3  Analyze settlement value, process

4.2 Prepare email summary of investigation and settlement advice for in-house counsel

4.3  Meet or confer by telephone with in-house counsel and others, as appropriate

5.0  Convey settlement position to opposing counsel

5.1  If mediation is warranted –

5.1.1  Select mediator

5.1.2  Identify who from client should attend mediation to maximize settlement potential

5.1.3  Schedule mediation

5.1.4  Prepare mediation statement

5.1.5  Prepare draft of settlement agreement

5.1.6  Attend mediation

5.1.7  Regardless of whether case settles at mediation, close matter

5.2  If mediation is not warranted –

5.2.1  Convey settlement position to opposing counsel

5.2.2  Negotiate settlement

5.2.3  Regardless of whether case settles, close matter

5.3  If settlement is not warranted –

5.3.1  Advise opposing counsel and close matter

January 21, 2015

Sample Risk Analysis Template for a public M&A matter, advising the target

A guest post by Sverre Tyrhaug

 Background:  Sverre Tyrhaug is the Managing Partner of Thommessen, the largest law firm in Norway.  He is one of five individuals from the firm who are currently completing our Certified Legal Project Manager Program®.  This is the third of three blog posts based on his answers to essay questions from the program.

This analysis uses a form from page 106 of the third edition of our Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide.  Planning time would be focused on the items that have the highest degree of risk in column 4.


What can go wrong?

A. How likely is it? (1-5)

B. How serious? (1-5)

A x B = Degree of risk


Reduce in advance

Reduce during matter

Insufficient available internal resources at Thommessen




Plan and schedule

Keep people on team informed on progress and schedule

Client does not allocate sufficient resources




Plan and schedule. Inform client about likely input required and when it is required


Multiple bidders on M&A project




Prepare for mulitiple bidders with different timelines.  What should response be if timeline is accelerated or postponed?

Emphasize importance of timeline.

Material adverse event at client




Vendor due diligence.

Keep in close touch with client to address any concerns early on.

Process leaks




Inform on importance of confidentiality. Keep team tight. Prepare “holding/leak statement”

Ensure confidentiality. Be prepared for leak.

No bidder is offering good enough price




Do pre-sounding of the market/ potential bidders prior to launch. Structure the process. Prepare well on management presentations etc.


Diverging views among major shareholders




Seek to vet good support for decision to initiate process


Hostile takeover offer launched




Prepare for responses (available poison pills, white knights etc.).

Keep overview of available options.

January 14, 2015

Sample statement of work for an M&A matter

A guest post by Sverre Tyrhaug

Background:  Sverre Tyrhaug is the Managing Partner of Thommessen, the largest law firm in Norway.  He is one of five individuals from the firm who are currently completing our Certified Legal Project Manager Program®.  This is the second of three blog posts based on his answers to essay questions from the program.

A statement of work should include the goal of the project, the client’s expectations in terms of the outcome and the deliverables.  It is important that the statement of work establishes a clear understanding with the client on what we are to deliver to meet the client’s expectations, deadlines and milestones and our budget or fee estimate (with relevant assumptions). Since our legal advice is often one of several deliveries in a larger project (requiring input from other advisors and also the client’s internal resources), it is also important that the statement of work is clear on who is doing what on an organizational level.

Below is a sample statement of work for a private M&A project.

We understand that the scope of the Engagement is to assist you with your proposed acquisition of 100% of the Norwegian entity TargetCompany Ltd (the “Target”). The Target is located in Norway, with 50 people in one location being Ostfold County and has annual sales of approximately NOK (Norwegian Krone) 100 million.  (Note to US readers: This would be equal to about $13.5 million US$.)  The Target has a subsidiary in Sweden (acquired one year ago) with annual external sales of around NOK 50 million. The parties have reached agreement on price of NOK 150 million.  The parties are targeting signing the Letter of Intent first week of September with completion of the due diligence and final transaction documents in mid November.

Based on the description of the matter set out above and the further clarifications and assumptions set out below, we are willing to offer a fixed fee on this matter in the amount of NOK 1 million (exclusive of VAT, if applicable).

Our assistance will include the following activities:

  • We will assist with reviewing and commenting on the proposed letter of intent for the transaction.
  • We will assist on the legal due diligence of the Target.
    • This assistance will be limited to the corporate documentation of the Norwegian entity and any other documents and agreements governed by Norwegian law.
    • We will provide a legal due diligence report in “red flag” format, describing issues that are deemed as material to the transaction or of relevance to the transaction documents.
  • We will prepare the share purchase agreement (“SPA”) and assist in the negotiation of such agreement. We understand that it has been communicated to the sellers that the SPA needs to include extensive representations and warranties, and that this has been accepted in principle as part of the agreement.  We also understand that you have reached agreement on price.
  • We will assist with the closing of the transaction, being the transfer of the shares in the Target against payment.

The fixed price has been based on the following further assumptions:

  • The negotiations will take place in Oslo, and all transaction documents will be reviewed and revised in no more than three “turns” of drafts.
  • The final transaction documents will be executed by the end of November.
  • The fixed price does not include due diligence beyond two weeks.
  • The fixed price does not include tax or VAT due diligence or tax advice with respect to the transactions. We are, however, happy to extend our assistance to also cover tax and duties at your request.
  • The Target does not have any material or significant legal or regulatory issues that will require extensive additional due diligence or significant changes to the transaction structure.
  • The fixed price does not cover transitional or other post closing agreements, such as revision of employment agreements, redundancy projects, transition/migration of IT services and business date or similar issues.

We generally invoice our clients on a monthly basis. In this matter, under a fixed price, we propose that we split the invoice in three equal payments with invoicing in October, November and December (or at closing if earlier).

The majority of the work will be undertaken by managing associate Mr. Lawyer, with the undersigned as the lawyer responsible for overall supervision and who will also be actively involved in the Engagement. Both core team members have extensive experience within M&A. To the extent we find it necessary, additional lawyers will be assigned to the Engagement.


January 07, 2015

Tip of the month: Hold a lessons learned meeting

Lawyers are increasingly holding meetings at the end of every significant matter to review what worked, what didn’t, and what could be done better the next time.  These discussions are not just a learning opportunity but also a marketing opportunity. A “lessons learned meeting” will enhance your relationship, help you learn more about what an existing client values most, and enable you to provide more value. If a large matter is at a pivotal point, a mid-course review and redirection could be the difference between success and failure.  

The first Wednesday of every month is devoted to a short and simple tip to help lawyers increase efficiency, provide greater value to their clients and/or develop new business. For suggestions to increase the efficiency of “lessons learned meetings,” see the third edition of my Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide.