The field of competition in which law firms try to outdo each other is changing rapidly. New technology and modifying processes are unsteadying the footing many firms once had. While the approximate size of the legal industry stood at $300 billion in 2020, large and small firms are under scrutiny. Client expectations are increasingly more impatient, and exceptional efficiency is a much sought-after attribute.
If law firms want to keep a competitive advantage and boost billable hours, they must find the best ways to maximize efficiency.
1) Conduct an Internal Analysis
You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know there is one so conducting an internal analysis is the jumping-off point.
Track the time of all employees – senior counsel, junior counsel, and administrative. Find where bottlenecks are occurring and processes are being slowed down. Once you know where time is being sunk, come up with a range of solutions to address them.
It is important to remember that efficiency is not just down to time but cost also. What non-billable tasks do your lawyers still carry out that could be shed to others? In a similar fashion, do your senior counsel carry out work that junior counsel could perform? Senior partners in many firms vacuum up billable hours to hit targets. It is often more economical to give these tasks to junior members and free up senior hours for new clients.
2) Upskill Employees
Constant learning is part and parcel of the legal profession. If you passed the bar as recently as 2017, your knowledge is outdated since the release of the United States Code 2018.
Firms, practices and laws are changing all the time. Sending employees to training courses, conferences, and webinars exposes them to recent best practices that help iron out the kinks you currently experience.
Ancillary benefits of different certifications can also be leveraged further down the line when you least expect it.
3) Mandate Annual Leave and Wellness Programs
In 2018, a Legal Trends Report from Clio found that 39% of lawyers consistently working overtime suffer a negative impact on their personal lives. Furthermore, substance abuse plays a part in 60% of malpractice claims and 85% of trust fund violation cases.
Ignoring the mental health implications of overworked lawyers is costing firms time and money. To be at their best and brightest, lawyers need to recharge and disconnect from time to time. There will be protests but installing a wellness strategy saves law firms in the long run.
4) Automate Where Possible
Resisting change and technology at this point is a failure. In 2018, 30% of law firms had an employee hired exclusively to find and implement relevant technologies. With 23% of lawyer tasks deemed automatable by the McKinsey Report, it is high time law firms made changes.
Laborious and often unprofitable tasks like client intake, digital sales, e-signatures, billing, marketing, and more are prime examples of tasks that can be automated. By having AI take care of these tasks, firms save hours on previously slow systems.
5) Augment Performance with AI and ML
The efficiency benefits of using technological assistance cannot be understated. Cloud management systems are making the office accessible from anywhere meaning firms can work on and share resources with clients without any travel time.
Contract analysis, document preparation, proofreading, and even valuation software are trimming the fat out of paperwork. Research tools such as ROSS Intelligence can scan United States Code 2018, US Case and Constitution, and all relevant legislation in mere seconds.
Firms are also able to leverage machine learning to use data more effectively for better client experiences, court strategies and more.
The legal industry is finely poised, and whoever the smartest changes will gain a market share, they are unlikely to relinquish. Having the willingness to advance sparks confidence in a client base is more comfortable with technology than ever whilst simultaneously increasing profits and productivity.
Efficiency in law is not just about working faster or using fewer resources, it is about future-proofing your firm and working smarter. In most industries where efficiency became a core value to the target market, early adapters win big.
Interesting Related Article: “How Law Firms Can Improve Their Online Visibility“