Gary M. Buckland is Vice President and Practice Lead Global Managed Solutions with KellyOCG®. He oversees sales, operations, and the strategic direction of Kelly Legal Managed Services, which specializes in legal outsourcing, eDiscovery solutions, managed document review and workforce solutions for top law firms and corporate legal departments. Mr. Buckland’s professional career spans 30 years. Prior to joining Kelly® in 2007, he served as CEO and President of the Atlantic Group, President of LegaLink Corporation and Vice President of Olsten Staffing Services and held various management positions at Motorola Inc. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business management and marketing from old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.
Facts and events are at the heart of every legal case, and in this day and age – especially on the enterprise level – managing these details is most definitely a science. Yet, there is an art to successful legal project management, too.
This includes balancing legal obligations and requirements with business strategy, process standards and objectives with deadlines, the responsibilities of inside counsel with the decisions of outside counsel, and defining value while managing the exploding volume of data. The legal minds must be able to focus on legal strategy and execution as they always have. But weaving the intricate threads of discovery and documentation remains a priority, too. Legal project management is no straightforward, simplistic, purely administrative task. And it has become a strategic endeavor not just in litigation but in corporate management, too.
Fifty years ago, the large corporate law firms that traditionally specialized in litigation served clients well through a combination of expertise and brawn. They used their cases as a training ground for newly-minted attorneys who often learned their craft by gathering and documenting the facts of a case – and helping clients navigate the requirements for transparency.
As litigation became more complex and lengthy, and firms tried to manage data by assigning more legal professionals to the task, internal and external costs skyrocketed. Then in the 1990s, new data management technologies emerged. Since then, using a mix of legal and technological muscle, deriving information out of accumulating case data remains a mammoth undertaking.
Often with the support or endorsement of legal advisors, the shift in focus to technology has opened the door to all manner of service providers. There have been huge investments in technology “solutions” that promise to turn legal information into a foundation for litigation. Yet these product investments have still required too many ancillary services. Outside counsel often must invest significant time in running projects and corralling bytes of information.
Besides the cost and the red tape, the trend to outsource legal project management to technology specialists became problematic for two other reasons.
1. First, any legal project is more than document organization or data capture. Legal projects involve achieving a foolproof data gathering process and real-time evaluation of priorities against the overall project objective. Every legal project must be executed in the context of enterprise business strategies and corporate responsibility.
2. Second, defining legal project management as a pure technology play puts a lot of pressure on the technology. Legal projects require the involvement of attorneys at the right moment. The best use of technology harnesses the well-chosen talents brought into a project and leverages experts skilled in managing people and processes. When it’s designed and deployed by such experts, the appropriate technology package accomplishes its purpose – organizing legal documentation for cataloging and searches – without distracting from legal strategy or compromising deadlines.
With today’s pressure to reduce the cost of litigation while illuminating crucial information, the capture and organization of facts and events require more than legal knowledge or complex technology. They require the skill to assemble knowledge in real-time and the capacity to keep teams on the right path.
For more on the benefits of legal team project management see our full report here: Legal Project Management
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