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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.

Published: 2021-11-08
Pages:133 to 157
Section: Articles
How to Cite
Rogers, Justine, Peter Dombkins, and Felicity Bell. 2021. “Legal Project Management: Projectifying the Legal Profession”. Law, Technology and Humans 3 (2):133-57.

Author Biographies

University of New South Wales
Australia Australia

Dr Justine Rogers is Deputy Director of the Law Society of NSW’s Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession (FLIP) research stream as part of the Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation at UNSW Law. Her current research projects are on lawyers, technology and change. Justine is also a Senior Lecturer. She teaches Lawyers, Ethics & Justice, the core legal ethics course, and Theories of Law and Justice, one of the strands of jurisprudence. Justine completed her DPhil at the University of Oxford, which was an ethnographic study of London barristers and pupillage.

PwC; University of New South Wales
Australia Australia

Peter is an international expert in legal transformation, legal technology and legal project management, and has led large-scale legal transformation programs for some of Australia's largest companies and law firms. Peter is also a leading national voice on legal professional competencies and education, particularly in legal operations and legal project management. Peter has 16 years' international experience in leading transformation and project management programs, with over a decade in the legal sector - including as a practicing lawyer specialising in major projects. Peter is the first Legal Project Manager to be peer-accredited by the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), and is a Chartered Project Professional (ChPP) with the UK Association for Project Management. Peter is also an accredited AIPM national project management assessor, and is Australia's first Adjunct Associate Professor in Legal Transformation, at the University of NSW Faculty of Law.

University of New South Wales
Australia Australia

Dr Felicity Bell is the Research Fellow for the Law Society of NSW's Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession (FLIP) research stream as part of the Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation at UNSW Law. Her research background is in family law, children’s law, and legal professionalism, particularly identity construction and best practice among lawyers. Her current research is focused on the impact of technological change on lawyers and the legal profession.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2652-4074