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October 18, 2017

A checklist to assess your legal project management needs

By Tim Batdorf

The LPM Self-Assessment Checklist below was designed to help lawyers decide whether they should find time to focus on LPM, and if so, in what areas.

As quickly as possible, check off your general level of concern with each topic.  Use the results to determine which areas to focus on first.  If you rate several items as high, prioritize them by looking for “low hanging fruit:"  areas which could have the greatest immediate impact on your practice while requiring the least time and effort to implement.

The checklist could also be useful to law firm leaders who want to determine which lawyers are interested in LPM assistance, and could benefit the most from our one to one LPM coaching or other programs.

LPM Self-Assessment Checklist

 

Your Level of Concern

Part 1: Set objectives and define scope

None

Low

Med

High

Your clients and/or your team do not fully understand exactly what is and is not included in a particular engagement

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Engagement letters fail to specify assumptions in hourly cost estimates or AFAs

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Your clients are unclear about exactly what they want and need

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Clients sometimes question the work that was done and what they are willing to pay for

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Client decision makers disagree on the goals of a matter

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Part 2: Identify and schedule activities

None

Low

Med

High

You and/or your team overlook tasks

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Your process for routine matters could be more efficient or simplified

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You do not use checklists regularly, effectively, or at all

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Last minute time crunches or missed deadlines sometimes occur

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Part 3: Assign tasks and manage the team

None

Low

Med

High

You are overwhelmed with too much work

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Team meetings are inefficient or ineffective

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Client demands for lower cost often lead to reduced profitability, which might be avoided with more effective delegation

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Delegated tasks come back late or the work comes back differently than you expected

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You lose too much time to e-mails, phone calls, or other interruptions

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Part 4: Plan and manage the budget

None

Low

Med

High

You often begin matters without having a clear idea of the likely total cost

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Legal fees frequently exceed your budget estimates at the start of a matter

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Your realization rate is too low and/or you have too many write-offs

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You have a difficult time meeting AFA requirements and capped fees while remaining profitable

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Part 5: Assess risks to budget and schedule

None

Low

Med

High

You and/or your team are unaware of the risks to the schedule or budget at the start of a matter

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You and/or your team could improve the way you minimize risks to the schedule or budget at the start of a matter

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Part 6: Manage quality

None

Low

Med

High

Perfectionism drives up fees with minimal quality improvement and/or little to no significant benefit as perceived by the client

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You and/or your team do not have quality control measures in  place to maintain the same level of quality while becoming more efficient

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Part 7: Manage client communications and expectations

None

Low

Med

High

You fail to keep your clients regularly informed about progress

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You do not know what type of updates (e.g., phone or email, weekly or monthly) each client prefers

Your team lacks a clear understanding of responsibilities and a clear plan for communicating within the team

Your team lacks a clear understanding of who should communicate directly with clients, and who should not

You and/or your team sometimes engage in miscommunication with each other and/or with the client

You do not routinely hold “lessons learned” reviews with your team and with clients

You could improve the way you handle difficult clients and situations

Part 8: Negotiate changes of scope

None

Low

Med

High

You do not effectively negotiate changes in scope with clients

You do not spot “red flags” immediately and make needed adjustments

You do not communicate changes in scope to clients

You do not have systems in place to track work that is beyond scope

You do not have a formal process for dealing with changes in scope

Your team does not know when there is a change in scope

Your team does not immediately inform you about changes in scope

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Download a pdf of this LPM Self-Assessment Checklist

 

This post was adapted from the fifth edition of the Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide, a frequently updated online library of LPM tools and templates.

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