In a legal department, the work is never done. When pressing issues are addressed, there are emerging and “sleeping” issues to contend with. As a result, the question of productivity and efficiency looms. How can a legal department get more done in less time – and ensure everyone is focusing on the most important matters?
Here are five ways to improve productivity and focus in your legal department:
- Set client expectations, and enable them to handle certain things themselves. Members of a legal department are human: They pay attention to the things that get them noticed, whether or not those are the most important things to attend to at that moment. Start by setting expectations directly with clients. What are their priorities? What should they expect in terms of level of service and turnaround time? Where can you provide standard guidance that will allow clients to “figure it out” on their own, rather than asking you repeatedly?
- Create a triage system. In medicine, the goal of triage is to assess patients in order to ensure the ones who need urgent treatment are seen first. Triage can help improve legal department productivity, too. With a good triage system, your staff can direct clients to the resources that will best help them, allowing lawyers and support professionals to focus on the questions that need their specialized attention.
- Hold office hours. College professors hold office hours so students can discuss projects or issues with them face to face at a scheduled time that does not interfere with the professor’s other work. This model can help lawyers and legal support professionals be more productive, too – and it can help build relationships with clients.
- Work on things that matter to clients. Doing more for the sake of doing more isn’t really “productive,” although it may feel as if it is. Instead, start gathering data. Which tasks result in useful information for clients, or allow clients to take their “next step”? Focus on these to improve productivity without burning out staff.
- Know what you do best, and do it. For most legal departments, the value lawyers and legal support staff offer is primarily though their relationships with clients and their knowledge of facts and processes – not their insight into a particular area of law. Work on understanding where your department creates the most value for clients, and outsource everything else.
At Kent Legal, our recruiters strive to find the best legal support professionals to match each of our clients’ specific needs. To learn more about our Toronto legal support recruiting services, contact us today.