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Innovative Hiring Strategies & Emerging Skills in Law: A Conversation with Amy Tenney Curren and Steve Gluckman - Pt 2

Welcome to part two of our FLUSA interview series on the evolving landscape of hiring and skill development in the legal industry. In this continuation, we explore innovative strategies and emerging competencies shaping the future of law firms. Join our marketing executive, Alexandria Cordova, as she sits down with industry-leading speakers for another insightful discussion.


In the context of nurturing skills for the future, how do private practice firms approach the integration of project management methodologies within their legal services? What benefits do they see in adopting such approaches, and how does this contribute to fostering innovation and efficiency within the firm's operations and client services?

SG: There’s a critical cycle we need to address here. Our incoming associates typically arrive without formal project management training, and often, they learn on the job from others who also lacked formal training in this area. This perpetuates an unfortunate cycle. Given the increasing demands on lawyers today—more clients, more files, more complex cases—it’s unrealistic to expect them to manage all this effectively without a solid foundation in project management. The challenge is that traditional project management methodologies, like Agile, don’t always mesh well with the nature of legal work. However, it's becoming increasingly essential to integrate these principles into legal services. We’re seeing more firms incorporate project management training into their professional development programs. This training doesn't necessarily need to be a formal PMP certification but should cover the basic principles of project management and effective project handling techniques. Moreover, we are beginning to see roles like legal project managers who specialize in applying these techniques to legal cases and transactions. But we can't just rely on these specialists for every project; every lawyer needs a basic understanding of project management. It boils down to training—it’s crucial not to assume that new lawyers will just pick up these skills along the way. Especially as we move forward, it’s vital to embed these skills into ongoing learning, because they’re certainly not getting it in law school.

ATC: Completely agree, Steve.  This is a great example of where we have put our own growth mindset skills to the test.  We recognized early on that legal project management training standing alone is not as effective – especially for new attorneys – as they don’t necessarily understand the “why” behind the training.  And so we are scaffolding the legal project management training alongside a number of other professional development trainings, including things like the business of law firm finances and client service so that the trainings taken together tell a story how the process works and how the pieces fit.

Relatedly, much of this fits naturally in the well known “people, processes, and technology framework.” It's 60 years old, but it still matters and it's still really what we build strategies around, whether consciously or subconsciously: 

  • who are the people who can provide the best and most  stellar client service and representation, to our clients; 

  • what are the processes that we're doing that in terms of how we can do that?   What’s working? What’s not?  Where do we need to improve? 

  • What technological innovations can help us provide better client service, broadly construed, in the most cost efficient manner? What can be automated?  

What I like about this is that the people, processes, and technology framework brings us back to the basic questions of “what are we trying to achieve and how? 

An example in that context of how we are applying that to client service is how we look at industry sectors within Morrison Foerster.  We want  our clients to be able to come to the Firm and say “I have a problem, help me solve it,” or we go to the clients and say “What problem can we help you solve?” We don't want there to be red tape, but just to be able to connect our clients with our experts to help solve our client’s most vexing issues.  If we have the systems, the people, the processes, and the technology set up well, the world's our oyster.

SG: I think you’ve hit on a crucial point, Amy. Teaching project management can't occur in a vacuum — it's not enough to just explain the 'how' without understanding the 'why'. You  mentioned you’re teaching the financial components of the law firm, like how projects drive revenue and support clients, which is absolutely vital. It's intriguing that within our digital learning offering addressing professional skills for law firms, the most popular topics address the fundamentals. Topics such as ‘how do law firms make money’, ‘what impacts firm profitability’, ‘what does industry-leading client-service look like’, and ‘the essentials of project management.’ This shows that there’s a clear demand not only for learning project management skills but also understanding their broader implications. So, you’re absolutely right—we can’t just fill roles with legal project managers or run generic PMP courses. We need to provide context and explain how these skills apply broadly across all types of projects. It's essential to embed this understanding across the board, and I think you’re spot on with emphasizing the importance of this approach.


Secure your seat today to hear more from Amy, Steve and our other amazing speakers at Future Lawyer USA.

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