this product is unavailable for purchase using a firm account, please log in with a personal account to make this purchase.

Select from any of the filters or enter a search term

Managing Legal Projects

Managing Legal Projects

By Liz Harris


Developing and managing against case plans and task lists is project management in action.

Project management is the discipline of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified time (Wikipedia).

Legal project management (LPM) is simply the application of project management to legal work. It can be defined as: developing and implementing a plan to manage defined legal work, in a manner which will maximise the likelihood of achieving an agreed outcome, at a cost which delivers value to the client in an acceptable timeframe

Some lawyers believe project management has no place in legal practice, particularly litigation, arguing that project management techniques may be effective for building a bridge, but not when somebody else is trying to tear it down while you build it.

Yet the majority of lawyers have used project management techniques throughout their careers – maybe without being aware of this. Planning is the foundation of project management – and developing and managing against case plans and task lists is project management in action. Identifying the objective and developing a strategy to achieve the objective, is another project management technique used by good lawyers.

Steps in LPM are:

  • understand and scope what needs to be done – agree the objective and what the “done” looks like
  • develop the strategy – plan what work needs to be done to achieve the objective
  • develop the roadmap – plan who will do the work, list and assign tasks, and manage any resource gaps
  • identify and manage risks – identify risks and gaps, and plan how to deal with the major ones
  • establish the budget and price the work, taking risks and contingencies into account
  • manage the project – manage time, quality and budget
  • identify and negotiate changes in scope
  • review the matter at conclusion – to learn from it.

The focus of LPM is planning up front, ensuring the focus is on being proactive, not reactive. A particular feature is working with the client to clearly define the desired outcome, and developing a strategy and plan which will maximise the likelihood of achieving that outcome. In turn that plan enables preparing realistic cost estimates. Managing against the plan enables the lawyer to identify, in a timely manner, when changes to the plan and cost estimates are required.

Another feature of LPM planning is identifying risks – to the strategy, to time frames and to the work. Once risks are identified they can be addressed. Also proactive planning of tasks helps identify dependent steps, that is, steps which only be completed once something else has happened.

A key benefit of LPM is the focus on discussions with the client about fees and value. The lawyer is better able to explain what they are proposing to do, which inspires confidence in the client.

In multiple ways LPM enables better managing and delivery of legal matters with:

  • improved client relationships
  • more efficient use of resources
  • early identification of risks
  • increased accuracy of costs estimating
  • better meeting of clients needs and values, and
  • added confidence and timely delivery by the legal team. 

Liz Harris consults to the legal profession drawing on more than 30 years experience in law, cost and practice management at Ovid Consulting | Harris Cost Lawyers.


Views expressed on (Website) are not necessarily endorsed by the Law Institute of Victoria Ltd (LIV).

The information, including statements, opinions, documents and materials contained on the Website (Website Content) is for general information purposes only. The Website Content does not take into account your specific needs, objectives or circumstances, and it is not legal advice or services. Any reliance you place on the Website Content is at your own risk.

To the maximum extent permitted by law, the LIV excludes all liability for any loss or damage of any kind (including special, indirect or consequential loss and including loss of business profits) arising out of or in connection with the Website Content and the use or performance of the Website except to the extent that the loss or damage is directly caused by the LIV’s fraud or wilful misconduct.

Be the first to comment