Eight things you wanted to know about Managed Review Legal Project Management (but were always afraid to ask)
Eight simple answers to eight key questions about Managed Review Legal Project Management
1. What is legal project management (LPM)?
Legal project management (LPM)1 comprises a set of functions that are well documented to create a legally "repeatable and defensible" process.
2. Why should you ask your legal process outsourcing provider about LPM?
Because LPM uses well established and documented processes, supports repeatable and defensible requirements, and allows for tracking metrics, it can be used for establishing benchmarks. These benchmarks result in better project planning, scoping, and estimating discovery costs.
3. How does LPM enable increase in productivity and accuracy?
Carefully executed LPM increases efficiency and reduces cost by decomposing the legal process into predefined tasks and utilizing the tasks for case planning and production scheduling, which allow the project management team to focus on risk and cost controls during each phased task.
4. What are the best practices in documentation and communication you need to adopt during LPM?
- Review protocol
Documents used for identifying the substantive review criteria, including background information provided by clients to educate the team on legal issues, clearly defined scope of responsiveness per investigation or litigation demands, and those additional issues for which special attention is required.
- Review guidance
The document describes the functionality of the client's review tool, the specifications of fields or tags used for review, and the mandatory requirements for thorough review of each document. It may include instructions for system login, or how to get information for searches or annotations.
- Details document
This MS Excel workbook tracks critical client review information, such as the list of privilege entities (in-house counsel, outside law firms, legal domain names), acronyms used within the client's industry or within the company. The custodian list with summary of job responsibilities, and other relevant information should be tracked to keep the review team informed.
- Decision log
Tracker for queries escalated to the client that identifies the underlying document identifier, the date of the query escalation, and the written client response and supervisory attorney validation of the response.
5. Does LPM require legal supervision?
The American Bar Association and many US state bar associations2 require adequate US lawyer supervision of non-lawyer work.
6. How important is flexibility in the LPM process?
A key aspect of LPM is documented flexibility. Review projects, by the very nature of being fact-finding exercises, require some element of adaptability within the lifecycle of the project.
7. How can the project management team be more adaptive?
While certain types of legal review projects have common elements, the project management team must be adaptive based on daily learning and timely educating of reviewers about new developments, and applying new criteria to quality control searches.
8. What are the benefits of a flexible approach?
Documented adaptations will allow the team to react quickly to any changes in the scope of work, to communicate those changes to counsel, and to develop a revised action plan that can account for any deviation from the anticipated delivery deadline or resource requirements. In turn, this information flow helps counsel manage their budgets and management's expectations when working on billable hour basis, or this process facilitates cost mitigation from service providers where projects are taken on a fixed fee basis.
1Steven Levy wrote a book and blogs on LPM:
2 ABA Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility Formal Opinion 08-451 (2008); The Association of the Bar of the City of New York Commission on Professional & Judicial Ethics, Formal Opinion 2006-3 (2006); Los Angeles County Bar Association, Opinion 518 (2006); North Carolina State Bar, Formal Ethics Opinion 12 (2007); San Diego County Bar Association Legal Ethics Opinion 2007-1 (2007); Florida Bar Opinion 07-2 (2008).