During episode 10 of #LawyersGoneEthical, Megan talks with John Grant of Agile Attorney. During this informative discussion, Megan and John cover several key points of legal project management. This includes the possibility that adopting and implementing the right legal project management principles can help protect you from a bar complaint.
The Five Most Commonly Violated Ethical Rules
The five most commonly violated ethical rules are:
- 1: Competence
- 2: Scope of representation and the allocation of authority
- 3: Diligence
- 4: Communication
- 5: Fees
How Can Legal Project Management Help Protect You from a Bar Complaint?
John pointed to a concept known as the “iron triangle” of project management. The triangle consists of resources, time, and scope. Generally, one of those points is fixed while the other two are variable. For example, if the time is fixed, the scope may need to be smaller or you may need to use more resources to accomplish the objectives set by the client.
He went on to outline how adopting the right legal project management principles can help meet the ethical obligations lawyers have for competence, scope of representation and allocation of authority, diligence, communication, and fees.
Regarding competence, using project management principles can help lawyers thoroughly prepare. This could be preparation for meetings, writing and submitting briefs or responses by a specific deadline, and even help you better educate clients on what may be the best course of action to meet their objectives.
For scope of representation and allocation of authority, it helps to put the client’s objectives at the helm to determine the scope. After all, lawyers are hired to meet certain objectives. The entire case management process, including actions taken by you, should be done with the stated objectives in mind.
With diligence, legal project management guidelines help you by reminding you to not take on more than you can actually handle. It also highlights the importance of having the right systems and tools in place to do the best possible job for your clients.
Communication is an important component for any law office. Communicating with clients from a project management perspective gives you one more resource: the client and their thoughts. It helps you both remain on the same page as well as gives you more insight. In project management, it is imperative to manage all of your resources. That includes the information that your clients can provide.
Fees are important to both lawyers and to clients. Clients want to feel like what they’re getting from their lawyer is valuable. They also don’t want any billing surprises. Adopting legal project management principles (and talking with the client about their expectations regarding cost) helps by allowing you to educate your client on what the matter may cost, what they might expect, and whether there is a cap in place to protect them. Fee caps can help clients feel more at ease and provide you with more opportunities to reach out and communicate.
It’s All Tied Together
Legal project management as well as the five most commonly violated ethical rules are tied together. Legal project management helps you run a better practice, stay on top of your cases, and properly handle your resources. It helps with communication with clients. That communication may help educate clients on fees as well as help you understand what you need to do to be both diligent and competent.