Jonathon Cooper on Litigation Project Management

In a guest post at LegalBizDev, Tucker Ellis & West partner, Jonathon Cooper, offers his insight as a litigator into improving project management. Project management, as a tool set, is gaining increased support in the legal community, especially in the world of construction defect litigation.

Project managers are required to plan and to set objectives, up front, in detail. I think that we as lawyers fall down on this. Often we do not sit down, with our clients and with our teams, and discuss how to solve the issue. What is the objective? To win at all costs? To settle the case early? To settle the case between X dollars and Y dollars before the end of the year? We often dive right in and just start working.  The second area for improvement is that I do not believe that we as lawyers budget with the team in mind. Budgets are drafted with almost no thought to how to implement them or measure whether they are being followed or will be accurate. Budgeting needs to be done after a “road map” of the case has been at least sketched out. It then needs to be done in conjunction with the team of players involved.  Third, we do not do much to reassess how we are doing in the middle of the matter. We get some data, but we often do not get useful data. The budgeting that we do is seldom revised.  In fact it is seldom reviewed at any point after it is drafted.