The time has come for firms to finally resolve the work allocation challenge

Here at BigHand we have unique visibility across the market when it comes to supporting firms around legal work allocation and understanding the challenges they face. This was recently taken to the next level by conducting the largest ever legal resource management survey!

With over 900 responses from law firms leaders and resource management specialists from firms of 50+ lawyers in size, the results from this survey provide the clearest view of where resource management sits amongst law firm strategic priorities.

It is fair to say that resolving the resource management issue could be THE top priority for law firms. Of course I would think that - but this is supported by a whopping 98% of firms surveyed stating that they are reviewing their resourcing processes. This is further enhanced by 78% of firms confirming they are looking to implement resource management technology over the next 2 years.

Clearly resource management and legal work allocation is a huge strategic priority for firms right now.

It is easy to see why –

  • 60% of firms expect lawyers to work remotely for more than 3 days per week
  • 69% of firms are receiving pressure from clients to make sure work is completed by the most cost-effective resource – with 54% stating this has increased during the pandemic
  • 70% of firms say Diversity, Equity and Inclusion agendas impact how they resource matters

BUT, despite of all of the above pressures:

  • 60% of firms do not have information on work allocated from partners to associates
  • 63% of firms do not have any data regarding the skillset of each associate
  • 36% of firms are challenged by partners selecting resources based on personal preference

It is clear there is a need for change – without having data and processes to understand associate’s skillsets, career development, current capacity and Diversity Equity & Inclusion data – nothing will change. In addition, 78% of firms are looking to implement resource management technology – this is an important step. By having access to the right data (which means selecting the right software!) firms begin to have the tools to create a positive shift.

By far the biggest challenge for firms is driving the engagement and adoption of that technology. This is stressed by 98% of firms stating they are reviewing their resourcing processes. This is exactly the right approach.

Technology in isolation will not drive the maximum return for firms. For it to do so, there must be a focus on driving the right levels of engagement across partners and associates, designing processes that meet the needs of the firm, practice groups and clients – whilst addressing the needs of associates.

An overall approach is required, in addition to data to drive positive change in DEI, ensuring equal access to opportunities for all associates. Career development needs to be supported to improve retention. There are so many factors which technology is critical to supporting but cannot do alone. There must be an element of change management and change of behaviours to allow firms to see lasting benefits.

This is where law firms need dedicated consultancy and deep expertise in what is required to introduce, design, implement and embed resource management structures to law firms. It needs to be driven from a people perspective, making sure engagement is at the highest levels to translate to adoption. The technology then drives visibility of all the key operational and strategic data that is needed to maximise efficiency, engagement and the substantial people and financial benefits this approach brings.

My advice to any firm looking to introduce an improved approach to legal resource management (and even the 2% of firms who are not – yet!) is to follow the tried and tested approach that has served all successful change so well in the past: People – Process – Technology.

The first two stages are key. Without focussing on them and simply introducing a shiny app or software there is a real risk of doing more damage than good. This can be extremely expensive for firms, regardless of the cost of the tech. We help to review these areas, and design, implement and embed the necessary processes for every client to ensure maximum value from investment in technology.

To access the full Legal Resource Management Report click here.