The last chapter was about how every significant project needs a Project Charter to keep the lawyer-client project team focused on success. At Itkowitz PLLC the Project Charter is expressed through a series of “Legal Project Management Letters” (“LPM Letters”), extremely comprehensive case analysis memos directed to the lawyer-client team, which address for the case at that point: the facts, the law, the status, the client goals, current options -- and for each option – the pros, cons, time., cost, risks, and likelihood of the option advancing the goals, what’s out-of-scope, legal fees, a communications plan, legal fees, and a recommendation.
But the firm sending the client an LPM Letter is not the end of the process. LPM Letters are not static, and drafting them is not one-sided, with the information flowing from only the lawyer to the client. LPM Letters are designed to involve the client -- To get the client to really think about their options, their chances for success, the resources that need to be brought to the project, etc.
About six months into our launch of the Legal Project Management system at Itkowitz PLLC, a colleague and I spent about a week writing a thirty page LPM letter for a client in the midst of a big litigation. It was a great letter. But we got one section very wrong – our restatement of the client’s goals. The client loved the letter, was happy about the analysis, but was upset by our articulation of his goals. He thought we were reaching too high, substituting our own hopes for the outcome of the case for his, which were more modest. What the client’s goals had been at the initiation of the matter were not what the client’s goals have evolved into. It did not matter if we, as his lawyers, agreed with his scaled back goals, all that mattered was that we understood and honored them. The client asked me to re-write the letter with his true goals in mind, which I did.
This back and forth on an LPM Letter is a fascinating process. Upon completion, there is little doubt that both the lawyers and the clients are all on the same page, and ready for the next step in the litigation. This is lawyer and client communication and partnership on a completely new level.
Labels: Ch. 11 - A Collaborative Process