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Legal Project Managers: Where to Find These Unicorns

Co-authored by: Esther Bowers, Director of Practice Management at Honigman LLP and Janelle Shankin, LPM summer intern at Honigman LLP

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As a preface to this latest blog from LPM Institute Advisory Board Member, Esther Bowers, Director of Practice Management, Honigman LLP, I thought it would make sense to share some of the discussion from a recent call of the Advisory Board. One of the topics addressed on the call was the challenge in finding and keeping good LPM talent. Several law firm members of the Board commented that their legal project managers are getting calls weekly by recruiters or another firm trying to attract them. Others discussed how hard it was to find people as they need to expand their teams. A recent survey conducted by Thomson Reuters and TVPI reported on the salaries these roles are now commanding in law firms. The post below offers some interesting ideas on how to attract and train LPM talent for your firm.


Susan Raridon Lambreth

Chair, LPM Institute

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Legal Project Managers: Where to Find These Unicorns


Demand for skilled legal project managers is high (both for in-house roles and in law firms) and there are many discussions in the industry that center around how and where to source these roles. Our firm, Honigman, has had several successes in attracting talent from law schools that offer programs focused on innovation, legal design and business of law topics. Included at the bottom is a list of schools pulled together from the ABA and other resources.

To provide some insights on these programs, I asked our recent LPM summer intern, Janelle Shankin, to share details about the IFLP (Institute for the Future of Law Practice) program she has been involved with at Indiana University Maurer School of Law.


Janelle shared these highlights:


What it is:


- Institute for the Future of Law Practice (IFLP) is a three-week intensive boot camp course

on Pricing, Data Management, Project Management, AI, and Industry Insights followed by a

10 week internship placement.


o Lectures were on a variety of topics including:


§ pricing arrangements,

§ LEAN and Six Sigma,

§ technology tools firms are using (think hot docs and Intapp),

§ how to be a T-shaped lawyer and professional, and

§ methods and strategies individual companies are using to stay ahead of demand.


o Program candidates demonstrate leadership ability and experience; interest in business,

data, and tech; strong communication skills; and recognition that the legal industry is

changing.


o 1Ls and 2Ls who are interested in technology and innovation are encouraged to apply

and attend the annual boot camp trainings.


o Program alumni conduct interviews for the next class of students and are encouraged to

join the program’s 7 month course.


o Participants in the 7 month course get 10 credits towards their JD and are placed to work

at a company or firm for 7 months instead of 10 weeks.



Experience it provides:


- Practice presenting in front of legal professionals, academics, tech industry executives, and

others.


- Focused education on innovative approaches to the practice of law and creating larger

groups of people that understand what this innovation involves and the impact of same.


- Mandatory group projects and presentations that foster leadership skills and the ability to

work in teams



How the program prepared Janelle specifically for her role:


- Provided insight into pricing strategies, extra practice in Excel, and knowledge about AI

systems that allowed her to immediately plug-in with various functions within the firm.


- Gave her a detailed perspective on how much goes into making a legal practice run.



Participating IFLP Schools include:


- Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School

- Bucerius Law School (Hamburg, Germany)

- Chicago-Kent College of Law

- Georgetown Law

- IE Law School (Madrid, Spain)

- Indiana University Maurer School of Law

- Michigan State University College of Law

- Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

- Osgoode Hall Law School

- Santa Clara University School of Law

- Southern University Law Center

- Suffolk University Law School

- Syracuse University College of Law

- University of Calgary Law

- University of Colorado School of Law

- University of Miami School of Law

- University of Richmond School of Law

- Vanderbilt University Law School


We are fortunate to have snagged some bright talent from these programs and appreciate the training they have received that accelerates how quickly they learn upon joining the firm.

Below is a list of the law schools with design labs (note some overlap with the above). This was found on the ABA’s website.


- Stanford Legal Design Lab

- Northeastern University's NuLaw Lab

- Chicago Kent Law Lab

- Harvard Law School's Access to Justice Lab

- University of Arizona's Innovation for Justice program

- Suffolk Law School's LIT Lab

- Georgetown's Iron Tech Lawyer program

- Brigham Young's LawX program

- Michigan State's Legal RnD

- Vanderbilt's Law and Innovation program


If you are in the process of building your team, consider these programs as sources for talented candidates.


BIOS:


Esther Bowers is the Director of Practice Management at Honigman LLP, a 300-lawyer Midwest-based firm with an international reach. As part of her role, Ms. Bowers is

responsible for the design, implementation, operation and coordination of cross-departmental and multidisciplinary task forces focused on efforts to enhance how Honigman provides services to clients. Prior to Honigman, Ms. Bowers served as the Director of Client Service Initiatives at Barnes & Thornburg LLP and was the co-creator of BT ValueWorks the firm’s suite of pricing, process and technology solutions. She was responsible for the firm’s LPM program implementation, training and sustained adoption efforts. Ms. Bowers is active in the value and innovation communities and has presented on LPM for the ABA, ALAS, PLI and LMA programs. She has contributed to various publications and is a certified trainer in legal project management by LawVision and has her White Belt from Legal Lean Sigma Institute LLC.


Janelle Shankin is the 2019 Institute for the Future of Law Practice (IFLP) Summer Intern at Honigman, LLP, a 300-lawyer Midwest-based firm with an international reach. During her

time at Honigman, Ms. Shankin has gained experience working with attorneys and firm professionals regarding budget creation, data analysis, and metric gathering. Ms. Shankin is entering her second year of law school at Indiana University Maurer School of Law. There, she is the Case Management Supervisor for the Protective Order Pro Bono Project, an Associate on the Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equality, and a participant in the Fall 2019 Sherman Minton Moot Court Competition. She joined the second class of the Institute for the Future of Law Practice and completed their three-week intensive boot camp at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law this past May.

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