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What You Didn’t Learn About Legal Project Management in Law School

Matt Pollins

Matt Pollins

Small business, working at the office.
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    Law school taught you a lot. But amid the lessons on black letter law and how to give legal advice, one thing was missing: how to use this knowledge to actually deliver solutions to your clients.

    Do you remember those modules on the best way to complete tasks? Or those seminars on how to price, deliver, and plan a solution, or keep the client updated on progress? If the answer is no, you’re not alone. 

    That’s because legal project management is often completely missing from law school syllabuses — despite it being one of the most important aspects of being a successful lawyer. When you consider that 50% of projects fail in organizations that undervalue project management, you can see why this is a problem.1

    The good news is that the right legal technology can help. With the right platform, not only can you share know-how and knowledge with ease, you can also manage projects more effectively. 

    In this article, we’ll teach you what law school didn’t about legal project management — and how the legal tech revolution can help you manage projects better. 

    Law isn’t a solo sport

    The legal world is known for being highly competitive, even adversarial. There’s a more cutthroat, dog-eat-dog culture than in many other sectors. Why is this? Well, one reason is that law school instills these ideas in students from the start, teaching law as a solo sport where it’s you vs. everyone else.

    But in reality, law is a team sport. When you’re out there in the real world, you need to work with all sorts of different people to provide for your clients. You need to collaborate closely with team members, colleagues, outside counsel, service providers, practice support teams — the list goes on. 

    Everyone knows that when teams work together, they achieve more than those individuals could if they worked alone. Working in a siloed, individual way — as students often do in law school — isn’t going to cut it when producing results for your client in the real world. 

    This isn’t just a theory. A recent study in Harvard Law’s The Practice journal found that the more lawyers collaborate across practices, offices, jurisdictions, and internal boundaries, the higher the revenue they bring in.2

    Working in an individually competitive way is like being the showboating soccer player who never passes. If you want to win, you need to work as a team. 

    Working as a team

    So lawyers need to start working together. But how do you undo that pervasive culture of competition? Legal tech can help. A new breed of legal software is transforming the industry by enabling seamless, enhanced and secure collaboration. 

    For young, newly qualified lawyers, this may not seem like a big shift in approach. Those in their twenties have grown up with tech and generally take to new tools like a duck to water. But platforms like Lupl aren’t only accessible for young or tech-savvy lawyers. 

    Lupl is a legal project management platform that’s simple, easy to use, and intuitive — so easy, in fact, that anyone can set it up in just 57 seconds (to be precise). Not bad, right? Once it’s up and running, Lupl allows you to: 

    • Seamlessly integrate with other tech: Lupl brings together the tech stack of everyone you’re working with, allowing you to access multiple, disparate platforms through one easy-to-use, centralized hub.
    • Transform client collaboration: Lupl allows you to create more on-demand client experiences. And you can do this while taking the risk out of sharing documents, thanks to SOC2 certification.
    • Transform research: With the Lupl Pin browser extension, you can attach legal research to a specific matter, allowing you to easily capture information, add descriptions, and then share it with team members.
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    Legal is a project management industry

    Despite what law school taught you, it’s true. Every matter you work on is a project. Like any project, it needs input, approvals, and deadlines. As a lawyer, you have to keep clients in the loop. You need to chase people both internally and externally before deadlines. These are all key parts of the legal process. 

    You might be the most talented lawyer, with the deepest knowledge of legal fundamentals and black letter law, but if you can’t turn all that theory into practice — in other words, if you can’t collaborate and manage legal matters effectively — you’re going to lose time and money. 

    We’re not the only ones banging this drum. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) now requires solicitors to demonstrate competence in core project management principles. According to the SRA, in order to be considered merely competent, you must be able to: 

    “Initiate, plan, prioritize and manage work activities and projects to ensure that they are completed efficiently, on time, and to an appropriate standard”, including: 

    • Clarifying instructions.
    • Taking into account the availability of resources.
    • Monitoring, and keeping other people informed of, progress.
    • Meeting timescales, resource requirements, and budgets. 

    There are no two ways around it. To be a good lawyer, you need to be a good project manager. 

    Enhancing collaboration

    Getting a project management qualification is one thing. But when the people you collaborate with — both inside and outside your team — are all using different tech, in different places, and all have their own priorities, keeping track can be a full-time job. 

    With legal tech platforms like Lupl, you can change the relationship between lawyers — both within or between firms — as well as clients. You need to be able to assign people tasks, get approvals, and track if and by when those tasks need completing. With Lupl’s matter management templates, you can do all this and more.  

    Whether you need to conduct a legal due diligence review or implement key policies for an organization, you’ll need to get people working together and on the same page. Our matter templates allow you to: 

    • Create checklists and share project plans.
    • Include all relevant documents and information, including docs you need input and approval on.
    • Assign reviews and to-dos on a document to specific people.
    • Automatically alert those people as the deadline approaches. 

    So, no more chasing. No more emailing to check if a task has been completed. Lupl does it all for you, keeping you in the loop when tasks have been ticked off. No more time wasted manually creating checklists. With matter templates, Lupl creates them for you, allowing you to spend more time on billable hours. 

    You can choose from a growing range of ready-made templates designed by lawyers, for lawyers. And with our Premium model, you can even create your own custom templates to fit your specific needs. 

    In addition to our matter templates, Lupl also offers advanced sub-foldering. You can store and organize all your documents in the Lupl Drive using multiple sub-folders, making it easy to share collections and find what you’re looking for. 

    And with our Threaded Document Comments feature, you can attach conversations directly to the work product, ensuring that everyone’s input is collated in one place. 

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    Know-how is as important as knowledge

    Law school did a great job in teaching you the letter of the law. But while lawyers leave school brimming with academic knowledge, they often have little or no understanding of practical know-how. 

    Yes, your clients need you to give advice and answer their questions. But they also need you to take action and provide solutions. In the real world, practical know-how is just as important — if not more so — than theoretical, academic knowledge. You need to know how to manage projects before you start managing them. 

    The problem for lawyers just starting out in their careers is that once they leave school and enter the world of work, the legal know-how that is so critically important is hard to access. 

    In many law firms and in-house legal departments, know-how and experience are siloed within teams, with gatekeepers who unknowingly prevent it from being shared across the organization. But this intangible property is one of the firm’s biggest assets, and ensuring that it’s available for all to tap into is critical to a legal team’s success. 

    Combining your tech stack

    With the right legal tech, you can break down internal silos and ensure that knowledge and know-how flow freely among lawyers, teams, and departments. 

    One of the barriers to information sharing among legal teams is the fear of security and data breaches — and rightly so, given the recent number of high-profile law firm data breaches. But with a platform like Lupl, lawyers can share sensitive documents and technical information safely and securely. 

    Lupl brings everyone’s tech stack together into a single platform — and we mean everyone, from internal teams to outside counsel. Centralizing access to multiple different systems in this way eliminates security loose-ends. And with SOC2 accreditation, lawyers can rest assured that security is taken seriously. Lupl even pops up with a notification before you share sensitive information, just to remind you who you’re sharing it with.

    The result is a revolution in how legal know-how and knowledge are shared and distributed across an organization, ensuring that inexperienced lawyers benefit from the expertise, experience, and trade secrets passed down to them by their seasoned colleagues. 

    Legal project management made simple

    Despite what you learned at law school, project management is a central part of a lawyer’s job. And teamwork, rather than individualism, is a key ingredient of success. 

    Sure, being top of the class is great, but when you enter the real world, you need to know how to collaborate with people to get the job done — and Lupl can help. 

    No longer do lawyers, fresh out of law school, need to take time and expend huge effort to understand the practicalities of legal project management; Lupl can help do it for you.

    Lupl is packed with intuitive features that simplify legal project management, allow for effective risk management, and improve the overall delivery of legal services. You can save time and improve visibility over projects while delivering high-quality outcomes on time. 

    Our platform allows you to build on the solid foundation you gained in law school, assisting you with the practical know-how and project delivery side of legal that’s so important in the real world. 

    Why not give Lupl a try? To see how our ground-breaking platform can help you manage legal projects, get in touch and book a demo today. 

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    1  Success in Disruptive Times

    2  Collaboration in Law Firms

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