This website uses cookies

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. By using our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy

Rinesh Pankhania

Senior Legal Project Manager, Pinsent Masons Vario

Quotation Marks
"There has been an explosion of new services, products, and approaches that have revolutionized how lawyers work and structure their teams."

Project Management and Technology: a match made in heaven?

Project Management and Technology: a match made in heaven?


Rinesh Pankhania explores how integrating legal project management with technology enhances efficiency, manages workloads, and improves service delivery in the legal sector.

There has been an explosion in recent years of new services, products and approaches to legal work which have revolutionised the market and fundamentally changed how lawyers work, the skills prized in legal teams and how teams are structured. The next logical step on this journey is examining more closely not just how individual solutions can support a team, but how these solutions can best work together to provide a holistic and efficient service.

A big problem facing many lawyers at the moment, whether in private practice or in-house, is managing an increasing workload, which seems to be expanding by the day. Last year, a poll by Realm Recruit revealed that nine out of ten lawyers surveyed said a more manageable workload would be a top priority when looking for a new role.

In addition to the ‘usual’ to-do list, lawyers are also increasingly being asked to tackle complex environmental, social and governance, or ESG, issues for clients. These are multi-faceted and can encompass a plethora of issues, such as sustainability and a complex and ever evolving regulatory landscape.

We will go on to talk about how technology can create fantastic solutions for busy lawyers, but don’t let us forget that the growing evolution of technology also contributes to a lawyers’ workload in a myriad of ways. For example, in contentious matters, technology creates much more evidence to trawl through than ever before. In written evidence to Parliament, the Serious Fraud Office last year cited the largest case on its system has 48 million documents. 14 years ago, the average case opened by the SFO would involve around two million documents.

Creating efficiencies and managing the sheer volume of information available has to be a priority for lawyers and many individuals simply come up with their own ways of managing, and prioritising their workload, and ensuring their wider team stays on track. These individuals might not recognise they are ‘project managing’, but the skills they are employing in these instances are project management skills. We are seeing an increase in legal teams looking outside at external support to ensure projects stay on track.

Utilising LPM

Legal project management, or LPM, involves applying project management principles to the legal sector's service delivery, along with newer, customised methodologies developed specifically for legal projects. The primary aspect of a legal project manager's role is collaborating with the legal team and overseeing daily tasks such as planning, estimating, tracking issues, risks, and actions, scheduling meetings, managing documents, and ensuring resources are available as needed. While traditional project management skills like planning, reporting, and action tracking are common in legal projects, expertise in document management is essential due to the heavy reliance on documents in legal work.

In today's digital age, knowledge of legal technology is crucial since many documents are now stored on digital platforms. Typically, these documents are housed on collaboration portals and may involve the use of artificial intelligence or machine learning to condense data sets - for document reviews for acquisitions or disputes, for example. We are also seeing LPM increasingly converge and encompass sophisticated technological advancements to deliver legal matters. It’s where this synergy happens – embracing the methodologies and practices of legal practice management with technology that we see real results for lawyers and legal teams.

For example:

  • Document Creation – We often see LPM professionals working with lawyers to capture requirements to front load and automate the drafting of basic legal documents. For example, using tech tools to automate NDAs, Heads of Terms, SPAs, Certificates on Title, Board Minutes and other ancillary documents that do not need heavy negotiation. This can save a lot of time and money.

  • Visibility and Tracking – Throughout the project, using online platforms can be a really great way to ensure all stakeholders can directly input information into documents in real time and see dashboards, KPIs, WIP fees and crucially, progress against key milestones. This negates the need for lawyers to prepare manual updates and no one involved has to chase for status updates as they can see these in real time. Tools such as this, including cloud-based platforms, can also really aid communication and collaboration, which is an area where we can see time-sensitive legal projects become unstuck.

  • Budgeting – Tools such as AI can create precise budgets by using historical data, estimating time and costs, and tracking expenditures in real-time. This helps control costs and provides more accurate billing estimates to keep projects on track.

  • Risk Analysis – This is another area where we see technology and LPM work well alongside one another. An important part of LPM is identifying and mitigating any risks involved in the project. Technology can prove invaluable here, by assessing similar, historical matters, generally checking on compliance issues and examining upcoming changes in legislation.

What is really key is integrating these solutions and creating a holistic and practical approach which suits your way of working and your people. Change is difficult for us to process, so creating efficiencies without having to rip up the rule book and letting your people work in a similar way to the way they’re used to, will mean the change sticks, and the desired efficiencies are achieved. We are certainly seeing our clients benefiting from a more blended approach, taking the LPM processes and methodologies but also combining these processes with tech tools to make the journey smoother and faster.

Planning ahead

We know technology doesn’t hold all the answers to lawyers’ problems. Equally, the technology solution won’t always require a huge investment; firms and teams can leverage the technology they have, by maximising the full functionality of the available features and proper training and onboarding for users.

Going through a right-sourcing exercise, and thinking carefully about legal tasks and who does what is really the first step anyone should be taking before jumping into the action box. It may be that technology is the right solution, but coupled with alternative resources such as paralegals or contract lawyers can formulate the most cost-effective way to simplify processes and make them lean.

When used properly, the integration of LPM and technology creates a more effective, transparent, and client-focused approach to legal services. It enables legal professionals to meet deadlines, control costs, and ultimately, concentrate on sophisticated legal work, ensuring better outcomes for clients.

Rinesh Pankhania is Senior Legal Project Manager at Vario, Pinsent Masons