It might seem odd to hear that Project Management is one of the most important skills that a law firm needs to be successful. Aren't law firms just there to solve people's legal problems? Why would that require project management expertise?
One of the common complaints I hear from clients about other law firms is "They do good work, but it's always late!", "They said I'd get it in a week, but it took two months!", or "They would never commit to a firm deadline".
It turns out the issue isn't in the complexity of the individual tasks we handle. For the most part, the tasks we take on can be accomplished in less than a few weeks. The importance of project management lies in the long-term relationships that develop from our work and the number of clients that come to depend on us. When we represent a client, we work with them to formulate strategy and expectations, which usually include some degree of agency and initiative that we exercise on our client's behalf. Our clients' satisfaction depends on our adherence to their constraints and their goals as we interact with the Patent Offices, Courts, and other parties to achieve those goals. To accurately track our progress and judge our performance for each of our many clients, we need to monitor those constraints and goals while ensuring efficient allocation of our time and resources to those efforts.
Good project management doesn't require fancy software. In fact, I personally rely on a self-authored spreadsheet to calendar my time among my various clients and to track the efforts of my colleagues on our shared projects. Good project management merely requires disciplined record keeping and remembering to periodically keep an eye the bigger picture to keep our efforts aligned with the client's goals over the life of the attorney-client relationship. It may not seem like much, but I believe it's one of the most important skills we offer.