I despise long deadlines for legal research projects. Give me a complex project that has to be completed by the end of the week over a complex project that I must pick away at over a month or two any day. Why? With a longer project I must use formal project management – on myself.
Project managing a short deadline individual research question is easy to mentally manage by scripting the activity as “the research process”. To be clear, I am speaking of the type of legal research that is often assigned to junior lawyers, law students or law librarians. In reality, the legal research process that is used to answer a specific assigned question IS project management. There is a defined objective, scope, constraints, a plan, execution of the plan, monitoring of performance of the plan through the activity, and reviewing the completed product.
A longer deadline often indicates a more complex task so there is a compelling reason to lay out the project management piece of the action in a more formal way. Writing down the plan for a multi-pronged piece of legal research, checking in with delegates (and yourself) to ensure scope and timelines are in line, and all of the other bits of the project management diligence FEEL like they get in the way of doing the work which is the fun part for most of us.
Today’s Legal Research Tip: remind yourself that every legal research question is really a project; let the project management – managing the process of getting to an answer – be part of the fun.