Clients rightly expect that we will match their commitment to efficiency in the way we staff and manage their matters. Our legal project management professionals help the attorneys structure cost-effective teams, develop reliable work plans and budgets, and manage matters accordingly.
We begin by determining the individual client's needs, expectations, and priorities, and we incorporate them into cost-conscious, robust, and goal-oriented staffing plans and budgets. We diligently monitor progress against those plans and budgets and we regularly communicate with clients about the status of engagements using the method and timing of their preference.
Legal Project Management
Active matter management ensures that we deliver the value clients expect from us. From the outset of any engagement, we listen to our clients so we understand their goals and expectations. We analyze each matter, drawing on our experience with similar engagements and our knowledge of the relevant practice and industry to identify the variables that drive cost, and to make reasonable assumptions about those variables considering relevant facts. We then prepare an engagement strategy, a detailed staffing plan, and a time budget that align with the client’s business objectives. Careful planning and a reliable budget form the foundation of effective legal project management.
We believe that the disciplined process of creating a budget and work plan is so important that we encourage our lawyers to prepare them even when our clients do not require it. We prepare budgets as a part of our matter intake process. We monitor progress against those budgets using Ballard Budget Manager, a dashboard tool that provides real-time budget-to-actual information and helps us to better manage each matter. The tool also helps us anticipate potential problems and discuss them with clients so we can jointly agree on any necessary corrective action.
Throughout the life of the matter, our certified legal project management professionals provide our engagement teams with the services, tools, and resources needed to monitor budget-to-actual performance, task completion, staffing efficiency, and deadlines in real time—and they make sure that information is relayed to the client through regular reporting and status updates so there are no surprises. They also help our lawyers analyze, design, and in some cases automate work processes to ensure that we are working as efficiently as possible without sacrificing quality.
Our legal project management team bridges the gap between the practice of law and the business of law. The team works with our lawyers to ensure that they are leveraging the firm's non-lawyer professionals with expertise in technology, business process engineering, research, and financial and risk management to deliver real value to our clients.
At the close of each matter, we actively solicit the client's feedback about our performance and their satisfaction with the value we have delivered. Our goal is to continuously improve the way we handle the client's matters. We also collect key data that will enhance budgeting and management of future matters.
Process management is crucial for handling legal matters as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible, particularly for high-volume or process-driven matters. Our certified legal project management professionals regularly meet with our legal teams and clients to analyze and map key processes and to identify all tasks and resources required for the efficient and successful completion of a matter. Our focus is on eliminating unnecessary or duplicative work, automating processes where possible and effective, assigning the most qualified and cost-effective legal team members to accomplish each task, and capturing information and metrics that enable us to monitor and continuously improve the effectiveness of the process.
Practice Innovation and Technology
We are committed to understanding each client's business operations so that we can develop innovative solutions to meet that client's specific needs. For example, if the client has high-volume, repetitive work, we work to develop a technology solution that improves efficiency and productivity without sacrificing quality.
We rely on the following technology solutions to assist our lawyers with pricing, matter management, case management, and competitive intelligence:
- Ballard AFA Tool is a proprietary application that we use to create time budgets at the phase and task level, and to model fee arrangements that are aligned with client goals and priorities.
- Ballard Budget Manager is a dashboard tool used by lawyers at their desktops to track actual work performed against budget in real time. It sends email alerts to responsible lawyers if actual performance approaches or deviates from budget and provides budget versus actual reports for internal management use and for communicating matter status to clients.
- Ballard Case Manager helps lawyers manage matters and deadlines. We use it to collect information, such as the type of case, its resolution time, location, and judgment amount; the legal fees incurred by task; the court type and judge; any local statutes or rules that affect the outcome of the matter; and the challenges in dealing with opposing counsel. This information can be used to support the development of engagement strategy and budgets for future matters. It also enables us to spot patterns and trends that may be valuable to our clients in minimizing overall legal costs.
- We use a third-party application that mines publicly available data on courts, judges, lawyers, other parties, and trends relating to litigation case types. The tool provides useful intelligence relevant to the litigation matters we undertake and helps us develop more effective, data-driven legal strategy and tactical plans.
We also create and maintain intranet portals, extranets, and due diligence rooms to give both our lawyers and our clients access to documents and other real-time information relating to our engagements.
Knowledge management is focused on improving the delivery of legal services by enabling us to more efficiently access and leverage prior work product when it is relevant to subsequent matters. We create and maintain form banks, templates, and research and resource libraries that allow us to build on previous experience to produce high-quality work product without starting from scratch. We also maintain a team of subject matter experts in each practice area that are available to answer questions as they arise.