It seems that suddenly, law firms have woken to the fact that the corporate world has a whole new technique out there to manage projects. Simply called Project Management, the area is booming. And, as always, the legal field tends to be the last to get in on the bandwagon. But for argument's sake, let's just say it arrived.
Legal Project Management by Steven B. Levy (DayPack Books), is a study in how to manage your case, control costs, meet schedules, manage risks, and maintain sanity. It's a process by which you can take control of your project. Prior to the concept of Legal Project Management, there were no standardized methods to manage a case. However, Project Management, in and of itself, has been around for years in the corporate arena.
Here is a great way for paralegals to pick up yet another useful skill and turn it into a top job. Project Managers are team leaders who can size up a case, establish a budget for doing so, create the work flow chart and see the project through to the end.
Levy's book gives you the tools to approach the job. Since this emerging field offers a powerful new approach to managing a case, it is not an alien discipline, full of jargon and process overhead. Rather, it's designed for the specific world of legal professionals. It respects the way attorneys and paralegal work, enhancing their success by playing to their strengths.
The book is easy to read dispersed throughout with quotes from Shakespeare. While Levy attempts to explain why those quotes are in the book, it remains a mystery exactly why although it does lend for interesting reading. Levy explains budgeting, analysis,work flow, execution information radiators, metrics and learning. It's a whole new world out there in terms of what happens when that new case comes in over the transom.
If you are looking to expand your position, it's time to explore the world of Project Management. The Organization of Legal Professionals is offering an 8 week on line, interactive, live class on Project Management starting December 15th. (www.theolp.org). Here is the perfect way to ensure your value to your firm, learn the skills of the hottest area right now and probably put more dollars in your pocket as a result.
Do remember the history of paralegals: No one sat down one day and said, "This is a paralegal job description. Now, let's go get some paralegals." That's not what happened. What happened was the position emerged from another position (legal secretary) when attorneys figured out that 1) secretaries could perform higher level tasks and 2) you could bill the client for someone called a paralegal but you couldn't bill for a secretary. Now, between eDiscovery Paralegals and Project Management Paralegals, the field is creating its own career path. More power to it.