Legal Project Management – Review of Two Recent Publications

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“Legal project management” is receiving increased attention in litigation.  See, e.g., Sarah Horstmann and Jill Sonnesyn, A Quick Guide to Legal Project Management in Litigation ( (ABA Aug. 23, 2022)(“Law firms are increasingly relying on Legal Project Management (LPM) to manage litigation matters. LPM takes general project management methodologies and applies them to legal work.”); see also J. Reynolds, et al.eDiscovery Project Management for IT Professionals: An Overview ( (Aug. 22, 2022); M. Mack, eDiscovery Project Management for IT Professionals: An Overview – EDRM (Aug. 29, 2022).

For example, a few years ago, in Legal Project Management — What Is It and Why Should You Care? (Oct. 9, 2018), Thomson Reuters wrote that:

In almost every article in the legal press over the past few years, the term legal project management (LPM) has been mentioned. It has been described as a “must have” by some and a fad that will be fleeting by others. For the most part though, it is seen as a critical component of law firms’ response to their clients’ pressure for greater efficiency. [emphasis added].

Two excellent, recent publications – Michael Quartararo, “Project Management in Electronic Discovery: An Introduction to Core Principles of Legal Project Management and Leadership In eDiscovery” (2nd ed. 2022), and Douglas Austin’s white paper, “Getting a ‘Clue’ Regarding eDiscovery Project Management” (eDiscovery Today Aug. 19, 2022), are valuable resources.

Together, they provide a solid grounding for e-discovery project management.  I would describe project management as applying a rigorous, sophisticated, and flexible checklist to common sense decision-making.  See generally, “The Checklist Manifesto” and the Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(f) Conference.

“The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right,” by Atul Gawande, M.D., is a fascinating analysis of the history and uses of checklists.  In a nutshell, the thesis is that there are many areas where we have sufficient knowledge to solve problems; however, we fail to apply it correctly.  “Getting the steps right is brutally hard, even if you know them.” [emphasis added].

Project management – as described in these two publications – provides a systematic methodology to get the steps right.

To the same effect, Susan Raridon Lambreth, of the LPM Institute, said: “Many successful lawyers have already been doing aspects of [legal project management] to manage their work. The difference today is that client pressures on lawyers are driving the need for a more proactive, disciplined, or systematic way of doing those steps. At its core, LPM is about better communication with the matter team internally and between the lawyers and their clients, whether the matter is being handled by a law firm or done within a legal department.”

Similarly, Carla Landry wrote that:

“Decision fatigue. It actually is a thing…. [T]he biggest argument for good legal processes is that it takes the routine and makes it, well, routine. When you have good processes, you have fewer decisions to make and you can dedicate your efforts to the matters that require your sharpest mental energy.”

Lawyers and Decisions: So Many Choices, So Little Time ( 26, 2021)(emphasis added).

A few years ago, I reviewed the first edition of Mr. Quartararo’s book, “Project Management in Electronic Discovery.”  I wrote:

Mr. Quartararo’s book explains the application of legal project management principles (“LPM”) to e-discovery projects.  He defines “project management” as “the structured application of skill, knowledge, tools and techniques to organize processes, activities and tasks designed to bring about the desired outcome that efficiently meets a project or business need.” … The book does an excellent job of providing specific tips, such as the description of load files, …. how to properly unitize paper documents, …. and a description of first and second pass reviews…. [emphasis added].[1]

That remains an accurate description of the expanded second edition, “Project Management in Electronic Discovery: An Introduction to Core Principles of Legal Project Management and Leadership In eDiscovery,” available on the author’s web site and  Amazon.[2]

In the second edition, Mr. Quartararo notes that “e-discovery is a team sport.”[3]  The book explains how to integrate the diverse players into a cohesive team using a project manager and others.  It also provides a basic description of every phase of that process and the appendices provide a number of useful forms.

Doug Austin’s white paper “highly recommends” Mr. Quartararo’s book.  It also complements that work, stating:

Just as Sun Tzu said battles are won before they are fought because of planning, you could say that projects are much more likely to be successful with well thought out upfront planning. Then again, Mike Tyson said that every boxer has a plan until they get hit, so plans can go out the window when unexpected events occur.[4] Regardless, while the other process groups are also important, lack of proper planning can often doom a project before it starts, so you’ll want to take note of the various activities associated with the Planning process group here. These activities are very relevant to all sorts of project types, including eDiscovery projects.

One of many examples of value added is Mr. Austin’s quality control table demonstrating how to track files from collection through production:  “These are the typical ‘buckets’ that files fall into during culling, searching and review. If the total of those counts matches the total number of files originally collected, great; if not, then something slipped through the cracks, and you have to figure out where the mistake was made and correct it.”  Id.

Both authors present the multi-faceted topic of project management in an understandable way.  People learn through redundancy, not repetition, and each publication provides a unique, but complementary, perspective.  For example:

  • Mr. Austin wrote: “Make Sure You Know Who is Driving the Bus: If no one is driving, or if the driver isn’t sufficiently qualified, the bus could end up in a ditch (or in The New York Times).”
  • Mr. Quintararo wrote: “A project manager is the person possessing the applicable skills, knowledge, and talent who is assigned by an organization and responsible for overseeing and actively managing, among other things, the scope, time, and cost of a project to achieve project objectives…. The point here is for all projects to have consistent structure and strategic organization….”

Ms. Horstmann and Ms. Sonnesyn wrote that: “Litigation is notoriously unpredictable, but effective matter management can minimize unpredictability and improve results for lawyers and clients.”  The Quintararo and Austin publications further that goal.


[1] See  Mention in (Sep. 17, 2017).

[2] Additionally, Mr. Quartararo, President of ACEDS, reports that: “ACEDS is in the process of developing a new program entitled ‘Project Management in Electronic Discovery,’ which will provide training and certification that marries two disciplines – the fundamentals of traditional project management and best practices in e-discovery.”  See email dated Aug. 22, 2022.

[3] My description has followed Georges Clemenceau that “[w]ar is too important to be left to the generals.”  E-discovery cannot be left to any single discipline.  To be successful, it generally requires attorneys, paralegals, technologists, and client business personnel.

[4] The concept did not originate with the boxer.  Centuries earlier, Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War  that “everybody has a plan until first contact with the enemy.”  That has oft been repeated:  “In his memoirs, American Soldier, former U.S. Central Command CENTCOM Commander General Tommy Franks, USA, Ret. portrayed Operation Anaconda as an absolute and unqualified success, but one in which the original U.S. military battle plan didnt [sic] survive first contact with the enemy.” Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan: A Case Study of Adaptation in Battle ( 1, 2007).