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December 23, 2021

Tips on How to Improve Law Firm Efficiency

Productivity is critical to a lawyer’s success. An average law firm could be losing out on £2.7 million of lost revenue every year due to lack of productivity.

Legal experts are often under strain due to increased working hours, ongoing workloads, or new and new client matters flooding into their daily routine at a rapid pace. Reasons that keep legal professionals at bay from better productivity vary from lawyer to lawyer, from firm to firm. Burnout, stress, competing timeframes, common distractions at the workplace, pending deals, and the list goes on. In simple words, when more work should be done in less time. The key to greater productivity lies not in working extra hours but wisely optimizing those hours, assembling them meaningfully.

Productivity is critical to a lawyer’s success. An average law firm could be losing out on £2.7 million of lost revenue every year due to lack of productivity.

Create a personal productivity system

Bloomberg View conveyed that an average attorney at a large law firm works from 50 to 60 hours per week.

An impediment to better work efficiency for lawyers and attorneys might be found in the lack of a strategic mindset. Without a strict and detailed to-do list in place, everything will probably "turn into a mess". But there's no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to planning or reporting. A personal productivity system implies not only creating a work schedule and a task list. It is more about re-prioritization of your tasks and all those items on a to-do list in terms of their urgency and in a way that makes sense to you.

Planning gives a clear roadmap of what should be accomplished throughout a day, leaving space even for unexpected tasks that might come into sight as well as for personal time.

In fact, you might arrive at work in the early morning without leaving the office till midnight but still not catch on with billable hour targets. Chances are, some administrative work will pull you back from essential matters. It might become a dilemma for solo lawyers or small law firms, who might not have dedicated personnel to take over their managerial duties such as office, marketing, or IT-related activities. But need to run their law practice forward and focus on client work.

Given that, you can let your to-do lists be tracked by professional legal software. Using the right tools helps retain a clear view of your schedule:

→ Restructure your tasks: track time spent on each task and its status, collaborate with colleagues on the same matters

→ Identify problematic areas: create and share invoices, generate reports, categorize time & expense entries

→ Keep track of your daily schedule: use digital calendars that sync with third-party apps.

The respondents surveyed ranked legal technologies regarding the impact they had on law firm productivity:

1) 90% said document management
2) 88% — time and billing management
3) 73% — financial management or enterprise resource planning
4) 70% — mobile apps
5) 70% — business intelligence

The benefits of disaster recovery, lower costs, business continuity, and cybersecurity were cited as the impetus toward moving to cloud-based technology.

Watch over your to-do list

Listing everything that should be done is the first step. But to make it work, your activities should be set onto realistic time frames. At times, you might find yourself balancing among consultations with clients, making phone calls, catching up on emails, or hearings in court. Your workload can be split into two primary categories:

Your personal tasks (ones you set yourself) - are not client-driven and do not necessarily have explicit deadlines, like clerical activities. Customer-related tasks (or requests from senior executives). These, most likely, have either immediate or long-term deadlines and should be graded as per their importance.

How to deal with them:

Estimate how much time a specific task will take (i.g., time you're ready to devote to) and match it to the official deadline. If there's something urgent, you can start doing it right away or put a task in your calendar on a specific date as well as outsource or delegate to a junior partner or a more experienced associate. Set time on your calendar for non-work-related tasks that contribute to your personal development like training, networking, teamwork, business research, etc. If you don't insert free time into your schedule, it might be filled in with extra work.

Your to-do items might seem not feasible within the eight-hour busy day and will stress you out unless you have a prioritization strategy at hand.

Delegate effectively

With the shift to remote work, more self-discipline is required to stay ahead of the curve. Barely any lawyer has extra 8 hours a day dedicated to completing mundane tasks. It is not only the productivity level that could drop, but also a firm might experience a lack of profit, or lawyers themselves are at risk of burnout.

Whether you run a personal practice or are a partner at a firm, you can make the best use of your time by delegating your tasks. Some smaller projects can be delegated to junior lawyers, personal assistants, or paralegals. This way, you reduce non-billable hours and put more effort into work that requires your experience and knowledge.

Anything that can be automated should be automated

Innovative tech products are here to help you get more skilled and more focused on actual work rather than on filing paperwork that does little service to your legal practice growth.

There is a good deal of digital tools and legal software products that are of great use to law specialists. For example, some apps help with document tracking, others with tasks or client management. The good news is that you can opt for all-in-one software and get everything you need in one place: keep track of documents, cases, procedures, policies, correspondence, and all that you need in your daily practice.

Before purchasing new software to fulfill your needs, consider a few crucial criteria.

Start with a deep analysis of your long-term goals and therefore decide on a set of features a technology must have (including user interface and support). Law companies hiring for remote jobs have other needs than firms where everyone works in an office. Or employers, which offer value-based billing (aka alternative fee arrangements) require other options than firms that are not going to change their business or pricing strategy.

Ensure remote access and its security. Lawyers working from home or outside the office need access to company data on a daily basis. Cloud-based solutions provide the necessary remote access legal practitioners need, prioritizing robust security to protect any sensitive information.

Choose software that enables integration with other systems and applications. By merging and integrating data and workflows among multiple applications, firms can fill the gaps in legal practice, optimize organizational processes and deliver great customer service.

Among 490 law firm practitioners surveyed in March 2020, 76% said that their law firm was using legal tech tools for legal research. Legal tech tools were also being used to support records management, e-Discovery, and document review services within law firms.

Software that will keep you on the right track

Our team suggests selecting a technology that is built specifically to support legal work and reduce workloads. Being equipped with the right software can provide lawyers with a lot of help with time and case management. Time tracker, communication module, document automation, client management, mobile access, and many other options allow lawyers to automate everyday processes and focus on what requires their personal involvement, like giving legal advice, partner meetings, or business development.