Every significant project needs a Project Charter. And your litigation is a significant project. Your case is of vital importance to you, you are spending a lot of money on it, it is complex, and there are many people involved both on the client side and on the firm side. Therefore, your case deserves 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”.
The best way to describe our Legal Project Management Letters (“LPM Letters”) is as extremely comprehensive case analysis memos (on steroids), directed to the client team.
LPM Letters are prepared at the beginning of an engagement, indeed often before the engagement officially begins, and they are also prepared at every juncture in the case. Taken together, the series of Legal Project Management Letters form the Project Charter.
A Legal Project Management Letter will Typically Contain the Following Sections:
(1) Facts. A review of the facts and a synthesis of the "hard" data (such as dates and names, contract provisions, summaries of substantive emails, etc.) with the "soft" information that was elicited in the Information Gathering phase.
(2) Law. A survey of the law relevant to the case, with particular attention to the elements of each cause of action, so that the client understands exactly what needs to be proven or dis-proven, and who has the burden of proof for each element.
(3) Status. An update on the exact status of the matter, taking into account the relevant developments since the case came to the firm, and/or the accumulated procedural history. The Client needs to really understand the procedural posture of the case, even if it is complicated. We find that clients often like to see a road map - a diagram, showing them where the case has been, where it is now, and what is coming next. Clients need to know where the detours might be, and where they might lead. A simple graphic can take the place of, or at least illuminate, pages of text. See the sample graphic at the top of this chapter.
(4) Goals. A clear restatement of the client’s goals, so that we can be sure that the client and the firm have an identical understanding of what success looks like for the client. See our earlier chapter on Defining Client's Goals.
(5) Options. A presentation of available options. For each option, we provide:
(f) Percentage chance of the option advancing the goals.
(6) Out-of-Scope Statement. We define and clarifying the scope of the engagement and explicitly stating what is not being done and why.
(7) Money. A frank discussion about the case’s budgetary constraints and of legal fees, and suggestions for fee arrangements that are alternatives to hourly billing.
(8) Communications Plan. We establish a communications plan. Especially if there are many people involved in the case at the firm, at corporate counsel, at the client company, etc.
(9) Recommendation. A recommendation for a course of action.
Once a client experiences the Legal Project Management way, they are never again satisfied with counsel who merely shoot an email or update them via a phone conference, especially if they are relying upon the advice of other decision makers in their company or family, or if the matter is complex.
Labels: Ch. 10 - LPM Letters