The term “fire drill” is often deployed to describe the crisis driven nature legal service delivery. Sadly, that phrase may be even more apt than most people realize.
Spontaneous conflagrations of indeterminate cause are
rare. Instead, like most fires, crises
accrue slowly, and start small. They are
only recognized suddenly. Catastrophically. And, like with actual fires, there are also
two ways to fight service related crises: prevention
Unfortunately, most lawyers still only focus on the
latter. But, who wouldn’t rather prevent
the fire in the first place? After all,
prevention is cheaper and less traumatic.
The problem is that too many lawyers have positioned themselves as
firefighters, or ‘remediaters.’ It’s a
sexier (and, potentially, more lucrative) gig.
Legal firefighters have marathon drafting sessions, oral arguments, and
“casts of thousands.” Legal
fire-preventers have records management, communication protocols, and
statistical sampling. I know . . . yawn.
The thing is, clients are beginning to look at how to keep
the fire from getting out of hand in the first place. They’re asking about technology and training,
planning and protocols, documentation and design. They’re expecting answers. In turn, lawyers and legal support
professionals need to recognize that legal project managers, while often
masters of remediation, have tremendous value to add by preventing the fire drill.