Keeping It Real: Implementing a Firm-Wide LPM Program, Part 1

Author:Natasha Chetty
Date:July 27, 2016
 
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Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, a law firm with 300 attorneys in five offices throughout the U.S. mid-west launched a comprehensive legal project management (LPM) initiative in 2011. Rather than announce the program with the usual press releases and fanfare, the firm deliberately chose to stay quiet about it – until recently. 

Carl W. Herstein is Honigman’s Detroit-based Chief Value Partner. In this two-part interview, Carl discusses the decision to “keep it real”, what he’s learned along the way, and how LPM fits into firm culture. His experience exemplifies the commitment, forethought and resources required as other firms consider similar programs.

Q. What prompted your firm’s interest in legal project management (LPM)?

Beginning in 2004, we noticed more client demands for lawyers to operate in a more disciplined, cost-effective and efficient manner.

It was apparent to us that this was a trend that was happening in every business, whether they were successful or not or whether there was a recession or not. We have a lot of construction clients, a big real estate practice and a large amount of health care clients, so we know that project management is critical to those sectors. We could also see the emphasis on process taking place with a lot of our IP clients and throughout the whole supply chain.

There was an increasing emphasis on paying more attention up front to what you were trying to accomplish, how you were going to accomplish it, what resources you were going to bring to bear, analyzing how matters proceed and learning from the outcome. Really, that is essentially a description of LPM.

Q. When did you start seriously considering LPM as a solution to this demand?

We formally started the program in 2011, as part of our strategic planning process.

Q. Who holds the key roles in LPM adoption?

The key roles are shared between three attorneys who now lead our value team: myself, as “Chief Value Partner”, Joe Sgroi, also a partner and head of our bankruptcy practice group, “Associate Chief Value Partner”, and a litigation associate, Value Associate Robert Riley.

We developed the vision, laid out direction and are now implementing the firm’s LPM system through training and coaching people, working with department chairs, practice group heads, and the directors of the business units. We now also have a project manager position (and are about to add a second), but we didn’t for the first few years.

Q. Why have partners spearheading LPM...

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