A legal team in a firm needs to work and communicate effectively together for success in any case but that can sometimes mean a clashing of ideas and personalities. Managing a legal team in-house can prove to be a challenge for an inexperienced manager. Here are a few essential legal team management tips to boost productivity and success rates and to overall have a healthier, more synergistic environment at the firm.
1. Keep Up The Morale
While legal firm environments are not known to be the most relaxing and creative ones out there, as a manager you should ensure the comfort of the team members and paralegals so that they can give their best to each case that is assigned to them. Make sure there is water, beverages, snacks, and a reasonable lunch hour to get them through. Unless absolutely necessary no one should be required to work overtime or to put in more hours than was agreed in their contract. A reasonable number of holidays is also essential for maintaining morale and happy spirits which undoubtedly contribute to higher productivity levels.
A part of keeping up the morale is working to the strengths of each team member. A good manager is aware of which lawyers work better on certain types of cases and careful allotment can ensure the best results. Mismatching lawyers to cases that are perhaps outside of their expertise or personal interest can prove disastrous. Soft skills often get more work done in the modern workplace than pressure and stress.
2. Time That Isn’t Part Of Billable Hours
Administrative tasks that often do not fall within billable hours can be troublesome and may affect progress on the actual case. An effective manager knows how to delegate tasks such as paperwork, correspondence, phone calls, reviews, and so forth so that the legal team can stay focused on the tasks for which they are able to bill the client.
Making use of a digital calendar with events and dates marked that the whole team can follow is a great step along with schedules that are shared daily with tasks designated to each team member. Scheduling done well can save you from doing what may count as unpaid work in the bigger picture. Automate organization tasks as far as possible so you can focus on the caseload and give it your full attention.
3. Instill Agility
A lawyer working in a legal firm is rarely assigned to a single case at any point in time. Depending on the scale of the firm and the expertise of the lawyer in question there might be quite a few cases on which he/she may be working. Managing a legal team with many responsibilities should be streamlined with the use of mobile technologies, apps, and other collaborative software and mechanisms that can enable team members to work together regardless of where they are.
With the use of virtual conference meetings and calls, team members can pool their best ideas even if they are out of station and cannot meet in person. A greater form of flexibility then permeates the group which leads to greater productivity since there is a shorter time lag between decision making and drawing up paperwork. If team members are having to delay or postpone meetings to match everyone’s schedule, it could mean cases are dragging on needlessly causing a waste of resources and dwindling the client’s trust.
4. Long-Term Productive Habits
Short-term solutions can work temporarily but they shouldn’t become the norm in your legal firm. As a manager, you need to ensure everyone’s work is up to par and they are not needlessly and consistently taking shortcuts to get tasks done. Not only is this important for the firm’s results and reputation it also affects the work culture that is being followed in the office. Cultivating work practices that may take a bit longer but have long-term productivity benefits is always the more sensible choice.
Furthermore, an overload of stopgap measures means a permanent or recurrent crisis state which ultimately will lead to a firm’s downfall as the trust of clients will be violated and the number of retainers will decrease. Resources should also be utilized sensibly so that high operational and running costs are not why employees take shortcuts.
5. Protecting The Interests Of Clients
Legal workings often deal with minute details as the adage ‘reading between the lines’ has never been truer than in court proceedings and legal documentation. Regardless of the workload, the legal team needs to set clear priorities, the first of which is protecting the interests of the clients. Effective channels of communication and updating the client/s should be set in place by the managers and their own views and requirements should be duly noted.
A clear balance needs to be achieved between tasks that must be carried out by lawyers and attorneys and tasks that the client can do for him/herself. In certain cases, an Orlando criminal defense lawyer may encourage the client to come up with certain strains of evidence or even possible witnesses for the team to work upon.
6. Metrics To Measure Progress
Progress and productivity can be measured if goals, milestones, and metrics are established by the management that the employees must adhere to. Having milestones that are outlined by expectations and cost can be a useful reference for the legal team without them having to endure a more authoritarian brand of leadership as stress is the enemy of productivity.
Furthermore, let your productivity measures and a subsequent review of policy be bound by a shorter period of time such as weekly or bi-weekly instead of quarterly or yearly. Various technological investments in devices and software can cut workload and increase productivity although employees require training first in most cases. A shorter reviewing and monitoring time slab means that redundant technological solutions will be removed quickly and replaced with better ones still accounting for the time set up, training and testing will take.