Whilst you will appoint your legal counsel on their knowledge of the law, what is also key is the ability to run your cases efficiently, keep costs under control, and manage inherent risk in what is often a complex project - all skills of a good project manager.
So how do you know if you have the right lawyer with the right skill mix? Consider their approach:
Initiation and Planning
This is to avoid surprises. Your lawyer should agree with you at the outset the outcome that you are seeking to achieve, the scope of the work that is required, who will be in the project team, and each team member's responsibilities.
This gives clarity of direction from the outset. Importantly, it enables you to set budgets. This is particularly important for public sector clients.
The agreed project plan is led and implemented by your lawyer, and kept constantly under review. The plan may require regular meetings of the project team or regular reporting on progress against agreed action points and on costs. Changes may be required - including to the budget - and again this constant review helps to avoid those unwelcome surprises.
On completion, you should be provided the opportunity to review performance, give feedback, and record what went well and what could have been done differently. This is recorded and acted upon in the next instruction.
One of the key benefits of legal project management is that it helps to control risk. Having a well thought through plan, subject to review, with clear allocation of responsibility between client and lawyer and among individual members of the team, with regular reporting against agreed action points, mitigates significantly against the risk of errors.
Legal project management is a skill which clients benefit from and one which a lawyer should have as an intrinsic part of their service.