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3 (Simple) Ways to Achieve Better Productivity in Your Legal Team

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

Time is money.

And never more so than in the legal world, where issues over productivity can be costly.

It will come as no surprise to many legal professionals that many in the legal world put in much more than the requisite eight-hour days. And with heavy caseloads and demanding clients, you could find your legal team overworked and exhausted, resulting in lower productivity overall and consequently lost billable hours and lower profit for your firm.

In its Report on the State of the Legal Market, Reuters confirms that “over the past ten years, the average billable hours worked by all Lawyers across the market declined from 134 billable hours per month in 2007 to 122 through the late part of 2016.”

This figure equates to 144 billable hours per year per Lawyer and a cost to law firms in terms of lost productivity of about £66,672 per lawyer per year.

One of the leading causes of lost productivity remains the problems associated with administration and paperwork. From time lost in searching for documents and emails, merging documents into one, and having to recreate reports that cannot be found, it’s estimated by the IDC Information Worker Survey 2012 that legal professionals spend an average of 11.2 hours a week dealing with challenges related to document creation and management.

So, in effect, a law firm is losing the equivalent of one and a half working days per week because its legal team is wasting valuable time searching for the information they need to do their job efficiently.

I find that quite a shocking figure, and I’m sure you do too.

For law firms with busy caseloads and time set aside for meeting clients and court appearances, it’s crucial to work towards better time management in the firm to avoid a drop-in productivity and consequent loss of revenue.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to maximise what can be achieved and ensure you make the most of your working hours without having to burn the midnight oil.

In this article, I will look at three key ways to help you maximise productivity in your legal team.


1. Embrace Technology

Many law firms still rely on manual processes and paper documentation, but automation is quickly changing that. Technology can increase billable hours, enhance productivity, and provide your legal team with the ability to work anywhere, anytime.

In addition to enabling firms to automate routine procedures such as e-billing, developments in technology now allow more advanced tasks to be automated. From contract creation and renewal to analysing legal documents, those tasks that you may once have relied on Junior Lawyers to fulfil can now be delivered by technology faster - and more efficiently.

Artificial intelligence is the next step from using LegalTech and can perform tasks that have previously required human intelligence input. Promising to be faster and more accurate than a human being - and in a profession where accuracy is paramount - the development of AI is an area that is set to transform legal practice.

Meanwhile, some of the everyday technologies you can utilise to maximise productivity are: Office 365

Law firms need to ensure compliance, and this system allows you to share documents with your team and clients securely.

Online Signatures

These are ideal for overseas clients and to combat lost time from annual leave and bank holidays. Tools like Legalesign let you quickly add a secure digital signature to paperwork. Consequently, clients can sign engagement letters faster, speeding up the contract process and enabling your firm to get straight to work.


This innovative programme ensures all the documents are accurate, precise and contextually correct: guaranteeing saved time for proofing and demonstrating your professionalism.

Case Management Software

Case management software such as Eclipse can help manage the full lifecycle of your cases as well as take care of the process and workflow.

2. Engage Your Secretarial or Administration Team

It’s a challenge for law firms to deliver more and better services in a competitive marketplace. Consequently, wise Managing Partners understand the need to consider productivity challenges.

One of the best ways to ensure your firm is making the most of its productivity is to engage a secretarial or administrative support team.

Although many law firms have cut back on secretarial services, savvy firms are becoming aware now that it’s about more than just a typing service.

Are your Fee Earners or Solicitors doing work that could be better done by a secretary or admin superstar?

If your Senior Legal team are spending time filing, doing their own expenses, managing their diary of making minor tweaks to documents – it’s time to consider engaging a Legal Secretary.

The time costs of having your Senior Solicitor doing administration rather than bringing in legal work overshadow the savings that could be made by employing a secretary.

Secretaries are often the ‘glue’ in law firms. They are the ones who help individual Solicitors work better as a whole – they are ideally situated in the firm to have an overview which allows them to project manage individuals to ensure cohesiveness across the board, and to keep things running smoothly.

So, avoid underestimating the power of having an efficient secretary or secretarial team – not only do they provide a first efficient point of contact for your firm, but their overseeing capability makes them pivotal in ensuring maximum productivity.


3. Maintain Employee Wellbeing

The 2018 CIPD health and wellbeing report identified stress as the second most common reason for employees taking a period of short-term absence.

This is heightened in UK workplaces perceived as ‘high intensity’, such as the legal sector.

With many law firms using intricate lines of reporting and processes – many due to the collaborative nature and workflow of cases and specialisms, having a member of staff on sick leave due to stress can impact the whole team.

There’s no getting away from the fact that burnout is severe, and much more than just a case of being ‘a bit stressed’ in your legal work. So, it’s wise to look after the mental health and wellbeing of your legal team by creating a stress-free culture.

This could include:

  • Offering lunchtime yoga sessions or organising an office sports team
  • Mentoring new employees to help them learn the ropes and feel supported
  • Recognising achievements – from a simple ’thank you’ to a glitzy staff award event
  • Offering flexible work options such as flexitime or working from home to help maintain a harmonious work-life balance
  • Encouraging a collaborative and empathetic office culture that respects and supports the individual

What Next?

In a competitive legal arena, making the most of your staff and resources is paramount to ensuring your law firm’s success.

If you found this article informative, check out more of our blogs.

For further tips or advice on building your ideal legal team, call us on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options. With our help, the process can be smoother and quicker.



About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal IT personnel to Practice Managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.


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