Understanding legal project management and implementing a well-designed LPM program is quickly becoming recognized as a critical competency for in-house legal teams—particularly those striving to proactively manage legal spend and improve operational efficiency. Historically, matter management, electronic billing and document management systems—sometimes collectively referred to as enterprise legal management, or ELM—have been used to aid decision-making on vendor selection and to gauge service performance. Indeed, software developers are increasingly offering products designed to serve up summary financial information through a data dashboard, placing further reliance on technology. While access to this information is helpful, many law departments use ELM software sporadically, if at all (a February 2016 Gartner study indicates corporate ELM technology adoption to be around 20 percent).

At the same time, there appears a growing disconnect between in-house attorneys, their outside counsel and internal support teams on how current systems and data should be used to manage budgets and promote process improvement. Once technology has been implemented, many attorneys expect their return on investment to bring about immediate change, only to find marginal and/or unsustainable improvement in spend and efficiency. It appears that performance metrics, financial analytics and periodic reporting are only part of the solution.

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