Doing more with less: running a law firm after the Great Resignation

Monday 24 October, 2022

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70% of firms are increasing their fee-earner headcounts. That must mean there’s more work for fee-earners to do, which brings with it more administrative work. However, 40% of firms have fewer support staff than they did before the pandemic, so at a time when those administrative team members are sorely needed, many firms are struggling to recruit them, or are seeing them depart.

The Great Resignation is a very real threat to businesses in all industries, and in law it’s leaving many solicitors and (remaining) support staff completely overwhelmed. Aside from the negative impact that will have on your cases’ outcomes and your firm’s reputation, it risks becoming a vicious cycle, with stressed and over-stretched staff struggling to perform at their best, burning out, and perhaps even resigning as well.

So, how can you run a law firm after the Great Resignation?

Radical efficiency for law firms

When a firm is forced to operate with fewer staff than it’s accustomed to, a very quick adaptation needs to happen. If the quality of the firm’s work and the wellbeing of the firm’s staff are going to last, then the firm needs to be able to achieve more in a day than it had previously. That is not sustainable simply by having your remaining team work harder for longer, but it is achievable by reaching radical efficiency.

That takes substantial support infrastructure. Here’s how to prepare it.


Case Management

Many aspects of case management involve actions that are time-consuming when a human has to do them, but can be completed by software, either instantly or in the background.

Taking client onboarding as an example, the process demands credit checks and anti-money-laundering checks, which can mean intensive research on the part of a team member. Throughout the case, there are forms and submissions to be completed, and all of those need saving, categorising, and saving.

You can remove a huge weight from the administrative workload by using software to perform AML checks, pre-populate legal forms, and automatically file correspondence and documents.

Client Management

Because of the rise of digital, and accelerated by the pandemic, the mediums for client-firm communication are many and varied. A typical case these days can involve emails, phone calls, Zoom meetings, and WhatsApps. Every solicitor has their preference, and so does every client, but without at least some alignment, the process could become tortuous — when different parties default to different styles of communication, then that communication is less effective and less rapid.

There’s a solution in the right software. A shared platform means that there’s an intuitive portal for communication — it ensures the ‘common ground’ is as wide as possible by establishing an easy forum for updates, requests, questions, and messages.

Legal Accounts

Of all things to rush, accounts could be one of the worst. Getting them wrong is a crisis for the reputation or even the existence of the firm. The government, the Law Society, and the SRA all regulate legal accounts, and the consequences can be dire.

A hurried, overworked, or exhausted team member could easily slip up on any number of elements, jeopardising a case, a referral, or the professional standing of the firm.

To speed up the process without endangering compliance, you need the right software and automation processes. Discretion and lateral thinking will always have to lie with humans, but software can handle the onerous and precise requirements like postings, gathering bank statements, and disbursement analysis.

After the crisis

The radical efficiency that a firm develops for the bad times, will keep serving it in the good. If and when recruitment becomes ‘easy’ again, the firm can have both a healthy headcount and a thoroughly streamlined set of processes. That is an incredibly strong position to be in, and it will place you miles ahead of those who haven’t laid that groundwork in the same way.

Insight Legal has helped over a 1,000 law firms become radically efficient and make what one client has called ‘a transformative change in productivity’. See how to make that change in just 30 minutes by taking a demo — investing just half an hour will ensure your firm is prepared for any hiring market, and is keeping up with your increasingly streamlined peers.