As Seen on ALM: How Law Firms Can Harness Workflow Data to Overcome Staffing Concerns and Boost Profits

With 75% of law firms experiencing less demand for services and 53% of firms reporting increases in support staff attrition, legal leaders must focus on people, processes and technology to ensure long-term growth.

Law firms face challenges on multiple fronts that can affect their financial stability. A recent survey by BigHand of 825 legal professionals at mid- and large-size firms in North America and the United Kingdom finds that 75% of respondents report less demand for client services over the last year. At the same time, 53% of these firms are experiencing increases in support staff attrition.

The cost of replacing vital support staff, and the knowledge these employees have accumulated over years, comes at a cost, with BigHand estimating training and development of new workers equals out to about $80,000 for each new hire. The combination of these and other market forces can affect client relations and, ultimately, the long-term financial health of law firms.

For law firms looking to strengthen client relations and boost profitability, focusing on people, processes and, especially, technology is vital.

“Law firms and lawyers have to get much craftier with technology,” says Rob Stote, BigHand’s Chief Product Officer. “The firms have to get much more sophisticated in how they deliver their services or they’re at risk of being left behind by their competitors that do the same.”

This approach requires greater visibility into firms’ operations and the ability to leverage technology and tools to improve workflow to automate manual tasks. This approach can help overcome staffing shortages while keeping lawyers focused on clients’ needs.

Gaining Visibility Into Law Firm Workloads

Besides support staff attrition, law firms are contending with hybrid work schedules that now find lawyers and employees working remotely several days a week. This can also affect visibility into a firm’s operations. The BigHand study finds that 91% of staff believe hybrid working can improve with better visibility into workloads.

These developments require law firms to adjust, and 63% of respondents to the BigHand survey report they plan to make changes over the next two years. To ensure these fixes are effective, however, law firm leaders need to consider how support teams are structured, how the work is delegated and the costs. At the same time, as support staff leave, they take their knowledge with them. Retaining that institutional know-how is equally critical.

Investing in the right workflow software can help law firm leaders make data-based decisions about how to properly structure the support staff infrastructure. This approach can also help leaders gain visibility into these operations, which is crucial when controlling costs.

“We have tools today that allow us to sort through and pull out all this data and that lets the firm’s leaders say: ‘Look, we should be focusing on this or concentrating that,’ and that helps improve staffing or profitability or whatever the goal for the firm is,” Stote says.

Investing Now for Future

By investing in technology now and using data to gain visibility, legal leaders can future-proof their firms as support staffs shrink and focusing on profits and controlling costs becomes more important. The BigHand survey shows this message is getting through — 63% of respondents have now implemented workflow tech to improve legal support tasks.

With technology driving workflow and data driving support decisions, lawyers can focus on their main job: Serving clients’ needs and boosting the firm’s bottom line.

“Law firms are looking to technology to solve some of these problems, especially around where they can be more efficient, where they can produce a better result for their clients for the same, if not less, than what that client was paying for the year before,” Stote says.

To find out more or access the full BigHand report, click here.

About BigHand Workflow Management

To provide the best client service while supporting your bottom line, it’s vital to ensure your teams are working efficiently and smartly. Ineffective and outdated methods of delegating tasks makes it easy for things to be overlooked, means your workforce isn’t properly optimised, your tasks aren’t being delivered on time, and your bottom line is suffering as a result. BigHand Workflow Management is a task management solution that lets you turn your tasks into fully auditable, digital workflow entries. You can create tasks from voice, email, electronic or paper-based requests – from document production requests to reprographics and travel bookings.

BigHand Workflow Management