With major business mergers, malpractice suits, political spats, and criminal trials, the field of law is a popular topic in the news headlines. The entire sector is under the watchful eye of media, but a little attention is paid to the aggressive inter-firm competition. Small and large firms are robustly fighting for clients, increasing their competitive advantages. For many, victory comes down to productivity.
Although law firms have rarely been known for efficiency, there is a sea change. Clients are far less patient, and technologies have rapidly permeated the industry. Firms are striving to become the most productive to gain market share, and here are some top ways to increase law firm productivity.
Conduct an Internal Analysis
To fix a problem, you must know its roots. Before, law firms seldom paid much attention to efficiency. They’ve been relying on the billable-hours system for income, removing productivity from the priority list. However, clients are no longer accepting delays, overcharging, and slow-moving processes.
The best way to conduct an internal analysis is to create an investigative team and track all firm members’ time. With different technologies tracking time, you can see where bottlenecks occur and whether working hours are used effectively to generate income. If high-priced lawyers are spending time doing non-billable work that can be given to someone else, your assets are not running at optimum productivity.
Update Legacy Software
The legal industry has been known for maintaining traditional practices, no matter how outdated they became. However, with the sweeping digital transformations, the enforcement of tech adoption, and changing expectations of clients, archaic methods decrease the competitive advantage.
Assess your current tech stack and decide where you can make improvements. Technology advancements move fast and different applications, such as Microsoft Word, are not efficient without new plug-ins. If you create contracts, motions, affidavits, or any paperwork, you need advanced software for legal documents to boost productivity.
Organize Cloud Management
Everyone who is forced to work remotely during the last year knows the value of cloud computing software. It is an essential evolution for law firm productivity. Cloud management allows your firm to migrate to an accessible-from-anywhere system.
Savvy cloud management systems cover a variety of significant tasks. For management, you can see a bird’s eye view of different case progress, make informed decisions easier, and apportion resources more intuitively.
For lawyers, cloud management gives a chance to collaborate on documents and case strategies whilst sharing resources without creating obnoxiously long email threads. These value-adds even extend to client relations. The cloud lets you create client-specific portals where you can share and request documents and information. The cloud helps maintain transparency and communication between attorney and client efficiently and productively.
Introduce Automation Where Possible
For the past two years, the technology giant, Gartner, has predicted hyper-automation to be one of the biggest trends in tech. The company had a point.
The legal world is late to automation but is quickly playing catch-up. Vendors are scanning the industry to find and eradicate redundancies. Functions like billing are switching to automated cycles rather than issuing invoices and expecting checks in the mail. Clients now pay digitally without the fuss of laborious invoice issuance.
Client intake has streamlined with new software like Clio. Lawyers forward intake forms, and once clients complete them, Clio auto-populates a client profile. LexisNexis can automatically send you updates from trials you are following. Feedly monitors and analyzes social media trends relevant to your cases. These are only a few automation tools making lawyer life more productive.
Deloitte believes that automation is going to replace up to 100,000 legal jobs in the next 20 years. Gartner believes that 50% of corporate law work will be automated by 2024. Why? Because AI helps people become more productive, saving extra time for more important activities that require human thinking.
Institute Mandated Leave
The average lawyer works as much as three weeks of overtime a year. Nobody is under any illusions that lawyers are a hard-working bunch, but the problem is sustainability.
Burnout, fatigue, mental health, and substance abuse are rife because lawyers can’t switch off. 60% of malpractice suits involve some form of mental illness or substance abuse in the legal profession.
Over a career, these strains only increase, deteriorating productivity and quality. Enforcing annual leave allows lawyers to recharge, come back ready and contribute more productively.
Consider a 5S Office Layout
Japan invented the 5S systems that are the bedrock of Just-in-Time manufacturing. The system is set up to secure that workers responsible for building machinery are physically situated in the most efficient order. When Glaxo Smith Klein applied this methodology to switching from assigned offices to open-plan seating, decision-making time dropped 25%.
What collaborative work relationships are disrupted by physical or virtual barriers? Are they necessary? If a paralegal walks 3 minutes to and from senior counsel offices 20 times a day, you lose 1 hour of productivity. This strategy might not be ideal to change the layout, but it is valuable when it comes to small compounding productivity losses.
Law firms are precariously positioned right now. They have already been going through the disruptive change connected with digital transformations when the pandemic hit. Now with mass redundancies, rehires, accelerated digital, and expectation changes, the field of competition is in turmoil.
Efficiency is becoming the main ground for increasing market share. Thus, it’s necessary to know the top ways to increase law firm productivity are growing to increase the competitive advantage. The firms that boost productivity the quickest will be the ones that see the biggest benefits.