Some of the biggest players in the sector are tying LPM into their wider business support teams, and in turn closely working with their technology and innovation functions, while others are more isolated functions that operate in divided practice areas. The common trait here with this business unit is that organisations now see the area as a vital function to move forward in a fast-moving period of change across the industry.
The main driver seems to be that organisations are seeking ever more cost-effective processes and increasing deliverables in an environment of geopolitical and economic uncertainty. A steady rise has now been noted for the demand of Legal project managers and as the function evolves we envisage the unit to be a major driver in how global law firms reshape their product offerings.
Areas of growth and demand
With Legal Project Managers coming into prominence over the past couple of years we have seen two key areas of demand for these professionals:
Head of LPM – This position is usually the first to be looked at by any firm seeking to establish themselves in the field. This type of profile is usually a highly experienced Project Manager or senior Legal professional with strong experience of project management principles.
LPM Team build – This is one of the most popular engagements that we have seen over the past year. These projects look at building out the project management function, usually with junior and senior level hires to cater for differing requirements across the firms client base.
As the UK hub for the Legal sector is predominantly based within London, we have seen the majority of these teams being based in the capital. However, over the past 6 – 12 months we have also seen significant growth of the function in major cities across the UK, such as Leeds and Manchester. The market outside of London is rapidly growing and we expect to see this continue for some time as companies across all sectors evaluate cost against reward of being based in London.
The skill set of a successful LPM
The candidate requirements that firms have tend to be quite varied from business to business. The one common aspect is that all law firms have a preference of project management candidates with experience of delivery in a professional services capacity. Senior roles tend to be sourced from other law firms and usually have experience either as a Legal Project Manager or a Senior Associate with experience working in a specific practice area. Organisations tend to be swayed towards ex-lawyers for LPM roles as these types of candidates are usually able to gain more buy in from senior level stakeholders and partners.
The more junior positions however are usually sourced across professional services and management consultancy. We have seen a huge demand for ex-management consultants in this space due to the varied skill set and client engagement piece that is usually found within this type of profile.
The Legal market tends to be quite incestuous but within a newly growing function, more and more law firms are looking to attract talent from outside the direct industry and it appears this strategy is paying off. As this area of service offering grows within the UK market, Law firms need to take some tips from our partners across the pond.
The UK however seems to be significantly behind how advanced the US market is concerning the LPM and innovation functions. As the UK market is not nearly as well developed in this space it would be a wise decision to look at targeting professionals looking to relocate from the states to London. Of course, there are several factors that will impact decisions to hire US employees, but investments around sponsorship and relocation may be the key to the UK market delivering this significant driver effectively. Organisations should strongly consider the initial cost of relocating staff against the expense for setting this function incorrectly from the off and vital to source the best candidates.
One thing for certain is that Legal Project Management is on the rise and becoming increasingly important in the industry. We can only expect this area to grow and be one of the main catalysts for change in how Legal services are delivered across the industry.