Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 9.51.07 AM“While every MBA grad is familiar with project management, until recently it rarely crossed a lawyer’s radar. The discipline divides projects into five steps — initiate, plan, execute, control and close”

NATIONAL, Legal Insights and Practice Trends


A legal team is an integral part of any industrial or commercial building project. By managing the rights and regulations for government or companies, lawyers act both preventatively and reactively.

As Project Managers (PM’s), dealing with a key stakeholder’s legal department is a natural part of the job.  However, legal processes are notorious for being expensive, tedious and run overtime. When a PM’s main role is  cost control,  it entails curbing any unforeseen costs such as legal fees.

It’s a Project Managers job to ensure the project execution goes according to plan; rules and regulations are abided, safety is enforced and processes are followed within a budget and on a schedule.

While in some cases legal involvement is unavoidable – from construction errors to environmental spills, PM’s do their best to make these situations preventable and minimize legal involvement .

Using a lawyer in the pre and post-analysis stages of your project can often be unnecessary.  Here are 3 reasons why using a GOOD Project Manager is the cheaper and smarter decision in the long run.


 1. Cost Saving Fee Structure

Project Managers are paid an hourly rate and are often represented by themselves or a firm that negotiates wages with the client based on workload, complexity of work and timelines in mind. In return, the client sets the level of needs, the hours and the timeline that the Project Manager needs to be available. Unlike lawyers, PM’s don’t dictate the process, they simply manage it.


Lawyers are also paid hourly, so how is this different?


While lawyers also work under a firm, they manage their own fees on a case or client basis, meaning what they wish to charge a client is virtually in their hands.

Fixed fees can also be an effective tool for Project Managers and clients. These agreements reduce the risk of over-billing and are more profitable for key stakeholders. When a third party regulates each workers work path, it ensures the entire project runs smoothly; from overhead costs to project schedules.


2. Capabilities

The main goal of any Project Manager is to enhance communication amongst stakeholders, workers and clients so that the project process is run preventatively and proactively rather than reactively.

Project Manager’s tasks generally focus on:

  • Lowering costs & minimizing project shortcomings through pre-planning via risk management assessments as well as baseline procedures like scheduling and financial analysis
  • Improving quality through continual audit and control measures throughout the project

Overall, Project Management seeks to effectively deliver a project on time and within budget, with a focus on ensuring their client’s needs are satisfied.

Lawyers on the other hand are not necessarily communication or planning experts. Lawyers roles are often singular or conducted by small teams with a niche skill set. Project Managers are expert delegators that understand the large scope of a project and what needs to be accomplished and when. They are focused on cost savings to the client and simplifying processes whereas the presence of lawyers entails the exact opposite.


3. Independence

Project Managers are a complete solution with a multitude of valuable skill sets. A PM’s experience gives them ability to straddle HR, Accounting, Engineering and Management level tasks. Lawyers on the other hand, offer a niche skill not easily understand by others. Without a strong Project Manager, you could end up using not just one, but many lawyers for an array of rights and regulations issues.

Lawyers service a wide variety of industries, and subject matter – and they’ll make you pay for it. From mining, environmental, governmental, corporate, human rights and last but definitely not least – a defense lawyer for any breaches in health and safety or architect and engineering liability.

There are a multitude of things that can go wrong in a project no matter how small or large in scope, yet at the end of the day its Project Managers, not Lawyers that ensure the project process goes according to plan – for the client and all regulatory bodies.


Project Managers are the cost and time savers while also offering a diversity of skills that allow you, the client, to avoid legal concerns as much as possible.