A Lawyer’s Agile Perspective

Last week I googled “Agile Project Management” and the following definition came up on my screen:

            “Agile Project Management is an iterative approach to planning and guiding project processes that breaks them down into smaller cycles called sprints, or iterations.” [1]

It was Greek to me. No matter how many times I read it, I just didn’t understand. Not wanting to give up I googled “Agile Project Management for dummies”. I didn’t get the definition I understood, but I did learn that it’s a book written by Mark C. Layton. Fast forward to many hours and thousands of google searches later, I finally found a definition that I understood!

“Agile project management is an iterative approach to project management that focuses on breaking down large projects into more manageable tasks, which are completed in short iterations throughout the project life cycle. Teams that adopt the Agile methodology are able to complete work faster, adapt to changing project requirements, and optimize their workflow.” [2]

The second part of the sentence caught my eye. “Teams that adopt the Agile methodology are able to complete work faster, adapt to changing project requirements, and optimize their workflow.” [3] (emphasis added) I found this interesting, and now having understood the basics of what Agile Project Management is, I dug a little deeper and introduced myself to an Agile Project Management Methodology called Kanban.

What is Kanban? Kanban is a visual framework board that can be used to manage your project. A Japanese engineer Taii Ohno developed the Kanban Framework in the late1940s [4]. Agile Kanban Framework focuses on visualizing the entire project on boards [5].

How did I create my Kanban framework board? I used my blank whiteboard, I got some sticky notes and a whiteboard marker. Because of technology, you can use a physical board or a digital board, but I am slightly “old-school” and therefore prefer the physical board. Here’s what I did, step by step:

  1. I got my whiteboard.
  2. With my whiteboard marker, I made three columns.
  3. Sectioned them under the headings “To Do” – “In Progress” – “Completed”.
  4. I wrote down one task at a time on my stick notes and initially put them all under the ‘to-do’ column. As I progressed with my task, I moved to the other columns till the task was under the “Completed” column.

I realised, I did not need to download an app, which would give me free testing for a fixed period, and thereafter cost me money. I just used resources that were available to me.

The fact that Kanban is a pull system helped me to effectively prioritise my work. What do I mean by a pull system? It means that it’s a system that controls the flow of work by replacing what’s completed, like a vending machine [6]. In the Kanban board, work always moves from left to right [7]. Therefore, you pick work from the column to your left when you have completed all your existing work items or when an urgent task surfaces [8]

This Kanban framework board helped me be on top of my tasks (as a lawyer, there are so many things that need to get done, researching, drafting, answering a phone call, going to court etc) and it helped me visualise the work I had to do, which in turn helped me to prioritise my work. Will you try and see if it works for you?

Author: Zothanpuii Varte


[1] Gillis Alexander S., (August 2021), Agile Project Management, at: https://www.techtarget.com/searchcio/definition/Agile-project-management

[2] The Beginner’s Guide to Agile Project Management Methodology, at https://www.workfront.com/project-management/methodologies/agile

[3] ibid

[4] Kanban Methodology: The Simplest Agile Framework (March, 2022), at: https://kissflow.com/project/agile/kanban-methodology/

[5] ibid

[6] ibid

[7] ibid

[8] ibid