Being self-sufficient has broad meaning, but in the context of lawyers it often means those who do not rely on administrative assistance from others. They do their own typing; print their own documents and make formatting amendments themselves without accessing the support functions available to them.
Self-sufficient lawyers are independent because: they do not have access to administrative support, or they personally want to work that way.
“Some junior lawyers like typing.”
We hear this sentence sometimes and it is normally accompanied by a variant of; “they came through university typing.” This does not come as a major surprise. In fact, they probably rarely write with pen on paper. That does not, however, make them the fastest typists. Yes, they can type faster than previous generations but their support teams will be able to type faster still and they can certainly speak more words per minute than use a keyboard.
The other critical thing, absent from any comparison with university life, is that while they attended their studies;
In addition, the lawyers might be able to draft initial prose at a relatively decent pace using their keyboard. But, after they have typed, one of two things then normally happen. Either:
In a world where the smallest of errors in a document can unravel a legal argument, perfection rules everything else. But perfection takes time. The question is, whose time?
“Lots of our junior lawyers say they are worried about dictating or making phone calls in an open plan office because everyone will hear them and hear what they are saying. They lack confidence to do it.”
And I get that; my first role involved making call after call in an open plan office. And it was grim. For about two days. After that, it was positive. Stuff happened on the phone and things progressed faster.
Talking actually boosts confidence over time (it has the opposite effect of what the lawyers might fear when they stay silent). If confidence underpins success, why would firms want to actively stifle it early in their lawyers’ careers. Talking out loud in an office should not be something people shy away from. It should be encouraged. Clients say they want to hear from their lawyer; hear being the operative word.
Using your voice to delegate is also the fastest and clearest means of doing so. Dictation does not need to be limited to the creation of content for a document. It is often used for the immediate delegation of tasks for someone else to action on your behalf.
Obviously, anything that creates time is a good thing. Particularly for lawyers, being able to delegate means the following:
There is a lot of change in the legal world. We know that. We also know that firms are having to, particularly in some departments, really assess how they are working to be truly effective.
So focus on what you do best and get back to lawyering.