Legal Project Management
Many law firms and companies who conduct business or litigation in Europe have from time to time encountered difficulties in securing the service they want from their lawyers. We often hear complaints that too much time is spent trying to “control” or “understand” foreign lawyers, and that it is sometimes difficult to build up effective working relationships quickly.
A part of our role is to manage the project to help avoid such problems in the first place, create transparency, and enable the parties to concentrate on the commercial aspects of the matter.
- Examples of the types of problems which we are reported to us, and where we can help to make a difference include:
- Foreign lawyers have been instructed, and the service or results fall below expectations:
- The issues, procedures and potential outcomes are not properly explained, and there may be uncertainty as to whether everything has been understood.
- Things are moving too slowly, and need some additional impetus.
- Reporting is seldom in the form the client can use efficiently.
- A strategy for dealing with the matter is not discussed and agreed.
- The client is unable to accurately assess the risks.
- There is little or no transparency on costs, and there is the feeling that the client is not getting value for money.
- Language and cultural differences come into play, adding to the uncertainty and frustration.
- The client’s in-house legal capacity is often stretched to its limits (and beyond them), and so has insufficient time to devote to dealing with the detail of these situations.
- Whilst every situation is different, requiring different degrees of involvement and support, our service regularly includes the following elements:
- A preliminary face-to-face meeting to prepare clients for the cultural, procedural and commercial issues they are likely to encounter in the course of the transaction or dispute.
- Working with the parties to:
- Handle the routine communication and progress of the matter, reporting in an agreed format to the client team. In some instances we have worked intensively as part of the management or legal team, dealing with all aspects of the matter in accordance with the agreed strategy. This can include:
- Assisting in the formulation of the client’s goals and strategy
- Managing the relationship to the external lawyers appointed to represent the clients, and working with them to ensure the accurate delivery of instructions and the information necessary to progress the matter.
- Attending client/legal advisor meetings where appropriate.
- Helping maintain the project timeline by actively managing the work flow.
- Ensure that a risk assessment has been undertaken and the potential outcomes understood, and the right questions have been asked.
- Agree the desired goals or outcomes, and where appropriate get actively involved to ensure that the delivery of advice and the conduct of the matter reflect the client’s commercial needs and expectations.
- Avoid misunderstandings about costs and billing issues by building in financial transparency from the start of the project.