Month: July 2017

Ten Things: Legal Project Management for Beginners

Managing a legal project is not an easy task.  Not for in-house counsel or for outside counsel.  There are simply too many ways for a project to “come off the rails” and turn into a disaster.  Usually, the disaster has to do with cost/budget.  While blowing the budget is definitely not good, a worse scenario is when the disaster results in the project failing, be it a contract, and merger or acquisition, or a piece of litigation where the stakes are high.  A project “fail” can mean big problems for in-house lawyers, all the way up to being shown the door.  This is why it’s so important for in-house counsel and outside counsel to be on the same page any time there is a project of material size or risk.  The key for in-house counsel is understanding that you cannot simply turn the project over to outside counsel and “hope for the best.”  Successful legal projects require the involvement and input of in-house lawyers every step of the way.

Over the past decade or so, “Legal Project Management” has grown into an accepted (and in-demand) way to manage legal work sent to outside counsel.  However, it can be a rather involved process and while I am a big believer that it does pay off not all in-house lawyers are ready to step up to the level of commitment required to really do “LPM” right.  That’s okay.  I think any in-house lawyer can apply the basic concepts of LPM and even a cursory application of the basics will lead to better project management and better results.  This edition of “Ten Things” discusses the basics of Legal Project Management and how you can utilize them as a “beginner” to the process:

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Ten Things: Getting the Most Out of Mediation

Almost all in-house lawyers have dealt with mediation at some point.  If you haven’t to date, you will. Mediation is a process to resolve disputes between parties where a neutral third party helps facilitate the discussions, negotiation, and (hopefully) ultimate settlement of the dispute.  Unlike arbitration, mediation is generally voluntary and non-binding.  Meaning, in addition to picking their mediator, the parties get to decide whether and how they will resolve their dispute.  There are times when mediation is mandated, i.e., the parties must go through the process such as, for example, when their contract requires it as part of a dispute escalation process.  Likewise, there are times when a court will require mediation with the judge (or magistrate judge) acting as mediator (sometimes called a “settlement conference”). Mediation is often your best opportunity to settle a dispute before undergoing the expensive process of all-out litigation and trial.  Unfortunately, many in-house lawyers — or their clients – treat mediation like a poor cousin to arbitration and waste the opportunity.  This is usually because of either indifference or the idea that you can “just show up” and mediate.  Wrong!  There are many things you need to know about mediation in order to have the best chance at a successful outcome.  This edition of “Ten Things” discusses the key points in-house counsel need to know about mediation.

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