How To Start a Career in Legal Project Management
By Alex Hurler
My Journey Into LPM
I started my career in legal project management at the end of 2018. I had been with Pinsent Masons for several years working as Legal PA, PA in the Central Management Team and lastly as Compliance Analyst in the Hong Kong office. I had been thinking about a career in project management for many years, but it was not until I decided to return to London in 2018 that I finally pursued it. I wasn’t sure how to make the move without having any experience or training. A colleague suggested I speak to Dee Tamlin who had just set up Pinsent Masons’ Legal Project Management team.
I got in touch with Dee, to find out more. I had been involved in projects in the past and had managed my own small ‘projects’, but as it turned out I didn’t really know much about project management. I spent the next few months reading blogs, browsing websites, listening to podcasts and speaking to Project Managers and LPMs, learning all about project management methodologies like, waterfall and agile, and project management frameworks plus much more. I was lucky enough that a vacancy came up as a Coordinator in the team and that’s how it all started.
Whilst I didn’t have project management experience, I had a lot of transferable skills from my previous roles. Understanding how a law firm works, knowing the firm and its systems and transferring internally also helped with the transition.
There are different ways to get into project management. Like myself, a few of our team members transferred internally into the team. There are also apprenticeships out there, which provide opportunities for people with no prior experience or knowledge to kick start a career even up to degree level.
For me learning on the job is the best way but there are so many good courses out there and I would highly recommend attending one. Not only do you get a shiny certificate you can share on LinkedIn but it provides you with additional knowledge, best practice, skills and techniques and of course, supports your career. I would add though that I was glad I had 6 months on the job before attending my first course. The practical experience helps putting it all into context, there is a lot of course content to get through in a week.
How to Prepare for a Career in LPM:
- Read, listen and watch – there are so many articles, podcasts, books and free webinars out there;
- Look at your transferable skills – Problem solving, communication and stakeholder management – we all come across difficult people, how did you manage them? How do you communicate with people? How do you solve problems and deal with unforeseeable circumstances? These are important parts of project management.
- Planning and forward thinking – think about the holidays, events, parties you planned before. If it has a start and an end date, and it’s unique, it’s a project. Legal project management applies the traditional project management techniques to legal matters.
If you want to read more about the skills required for the job, check out Joanne Ewart’s blog article – “Top 5 skills of a Legal Project Manager”
Or reach out to the LPM team. We are always happy to help, answer questions, point you to articles, etc and who knows, there might be a vacancy coming up!
A day in legal project management never gets boring. It’s hard work but it’s also rewarding as you get to work on a range of legal matters from M&As to arbitration and the opportunity to work with a wide range of people across our global network. I started with pretty much zero experience and 2.5 years later now run my own projects and hold two project management qualifications. I am well on my way to becoming a fully-fledged Legal Project Manager!