Legal Project Management: Projectifying the Legal Profession
Post-Global Financial Crisis, global law firms and in-house departments have started to take up ‘Legal Project Management’ (LPM). LPM adopts and adapts project management methods for the law context as a means of streamlining, planning and costing legal work. This article examines LPM as an aspiring driver of managerialist change within the legal profession. In its reframing of all legal matters as ‘projects’, LPM is also an example of a more specific type of managerialist change, ‘projectification’: the process by which work activities, and our activities generally, are being organised and shaped as projects or temporary endeavours. Though we know managerialism is occurring, our understanding of how it manifests in, and is promoted by, specific practices and discourses within the workplace organisation is under-developed in the law context. It may be tempting to read managerialism as sullying traditional professionalism. But an extensive body of literature has documented the interactions of professional and managerial imperatives that result in what has been described as a hybridisation of different logics or belief systems. This article adds vital detail to the existing literature about managerialism within the legal profession by looking closely at LPM as projectification. To do so, it utilises Mirko Noordegraaf’s three dimensions of professionalism that represent core points of distinction: coordination of work, authority or the grounds for legitimacy, and values at stake. Through these facets, it analyses LPM’s somewhat contradictory aspects, illustrating the schismatic nature of projectification as both exciting and empowering, and ethically risky and dehumanising.