The Need For Project Management In The Legal Profession

Project Managers

Heaven is where:

French are the lovers,

Brits are the police,

Italians are the cooks, and

Germans organize everything.

Hell is where:

Germans are the lovers,

French are the police

Brits are the cooks, and

Italians organize everything.

As the European joke above highlights — organization is important, especially for those in the legal and compliance professions.  However, during my career, it has been interesting to see cases, petitions, exams, and audits come and go, all causing considerable stress for attorneys and compliance personnel.  Unfortunately, I have noticed that not much attention is given to organization and processes, so long as the desired result is obtained — be it a case won, a favorable settlement, and/or a successful grade for a regulatory exam.  All too often, going to trial and responding to an audit is akin to a marathon run at a sprint-like pace and – perhaps – without direction.

As I’ve settled into my new role as a consultant, it’s become apparent how much of the legal and compliance work I’ve done in the past is similar to my current workload, with one exception…  This exception lies in the fact that my current projects are all managed and organized by project managers.

Project Managers, as their title implies, are very good at managing projects. Using a vast array of tools and methodologies, project managers are able to accurately and consistently forecast timelines, resources, budgets, and a host of other variables in a way that not only makes sense to the brain but also to the business.

So, why and how would lawyers and compliance professionals benefit from working alongside project managers?

First, lawyers and compliance professionals are subject matter experts.  Their education – like mine – is grounded in understanding complex legal and regulatory matters, not managing a project, case, and/or audit.  By integrating project managers into their work, attorneys would be able to focus on the law and compliance officers would be able to focus on regulations.

Second, winning.

Winning for lawyers: it’s bringing in new clients and keeping current ones.  Project Managers can help foster the relationships between attorneys and their clients by helping clients understand the legal process, what work the attorneys are doing, and where the clients’ money is going.  An understanding of a law firm’s work and fiscal transparency will continue to foster the relationship with current clients and provide positive referrals for future ones.

Winning for compliance personnel: project managers can foster a relationship with regulators by organizing the way regulators and compliance professionals interact, managing how compliance data is presented, and demonstrating a company’s remediation efforts to the government.  Internally, a project manager can help to keep a compliance department on task, work within its budget, and to present the proper business case for additional resources.

Project Managers have become an essential part of most organizations, however, both compliance departments and law offices appear to fall greatly behind the curve.  In order to maximize both the success of employees and the success of the firm/compliance department, project managers, and their tools could prove to be a valuable asset.

Want to learn more about how to incorporate project management into the legal and compliance profession?  Let’s continue the conversation, reach out to me at