Legal project management for in-house lawyers

This concept is summed up in the title of William D. Henderson’s article[1], “Three Generations of U.S. Lawyers: Generalists, Specialists, Project Managers”.

It is certainly one part of the paradigm shift in law within companies. Already both experts and specialists, in-house lawyers have now also become true project managers that closely and securely oversee company policy. It is therefore necessary that they develop skills in management, human relations, and project steering and coordination, in addition to their technical and legal knowledge. However, coordinating a project involves understanding all of the subjects and being able to interact and communicate with the project team, its sponsor, its internal clients and its assessing stakeholders.

It is therefore only logical for an experienced lawyer to be comfortable with several additional fields, such as finance, economy, geopolitics, technology, project management and interpersonal communication in particular. A lawyer’s technical expertise has the most value when it is part of a multidisciplinary approach to the issues facing the company and its environment. The revolution is well under way and affects company in-house lawyers at all level, regardless of whether or not they will go on to become the General Counsel.

While mastery of one’s own legal field remains just as necessary, it is no longer enough. Lawyers should master legal project management tools and methods: Project Definition, Identification of Project Stakeholders (Participating, Evaluating, and Influencing), Sponsor’s role, Quality/Cost/Time objectives, Milestones and Deadlines, Gantt, Leadership & Management styles, Interpersonal communications, Value definition and communication, Technology Tools and systems… Openness to other subjects is becoming essential for understanding the complexity of situations in our globalized world. The legal professions are not immune to this reality.

[1] W. D. Henderson, “Three Generations of U.S. Lawyers: Generalists, Specialists, Project Managers”, Maryland Law Review, 2011, Vol. 70, p. 373.

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