The legal industry is a competitive space. When attorneys aren’t duking it out in the courtroom, they’re competing with each other for both clients and legal professionals to join their team. Virtually every attorney is looking for ways to score new clients. But don’t forget, hiring the best legal talent is what allows law firms to retain happy clients.
1. Data-Driven Customization in the Work Environment
Millennials have invaded the workforce. And generation Z isn’t far behind. In generation Z’s case, they’ve never experienced a world without the internet. Research universities are publishing articles where they warn employers that data-driven customization is becoming the expectation of students entering their universities.
Data-driven customization refers to different strategies that leverage real-time data, as well as historical data to improve productivity and efficiency. Law firms can’t afford to ignore the tech-savviness of the people they’re recruiting.
There are many examples of ways a firm can leverage data-driven customization. For example, law firms should focus on delivering a work environment that is cloud-based—allowing secure access to data that your employees need in order to complete their work from wherever they feel the most productive. We’re experiencing an increasingly mobile workforce. Many potential employees are looking for the opportunity to telecommute part-time or more.
Uploading sensitive case information to the cloud is a touchy subject, but it’s never been easier to do. Many cloud data systems are even HIPPA compliant.
2. Streamlined Time and Matter Tracking
Employee monitoring is a balancing act. Just because younger employees expect to have access to a virtually unlimited amount of data to complete their job effectively, it does not mean they are comfortable with being tracked. Their privacy is important to them. And employees certainly don’t want to feel like they’re being smothered by real-time surveillance of their work life.
So, I’d recommend steering clear of the various employee monitoring solutions out there. Instead, I’d invest some energy into assessing how your firm is tracking billable time. Every hour your employee is on the clock is costing your firm money. Converting that time into billable hours is how you keep the lights on.
I’ve worked with firms that use tools like Toggl to track their time. With these time-tracking solutions, their team members are able to track time automatically and easily tag their time entries with relevant matter numbers to make billing easier.
3. Leverage Smaller Teams with Electronic Collaboration Tools
Google completed an exhaustive study understanding the attributes of successful teams. One of their takeaways was that smaller teams worked better. In a law firm, this can be more easily accomplished by having associates, paralegals and assistants work with specific attorneys—something many firms already do by design.
But, what happens when an exceptionally large case comes your way? When attorneys bring their teams together, this brings a new dynamic to the way everyone engages around their responsibilities at work.
Thankfully, technology has an answer to this challenge: cloud-based organizational tools like Asana and Trello allow for teams to visually see what the entire organization is working on. And they can easily see how their tasks fit into the flow of the organization.
This allows for smaller teams to easily work together to complete legal research, create briefs and keep everyone informed as to their progress.
4. Leverage Personal Anxiety Apps in the Office
There are few jobs more stressful and high-pressure than the legal profession. Sadly, the suicide rate in the legal profession is outpacing other professions. This is a fundamental problem, and it prompts me to add the following point to this article…
Law firms need to get serious about mental health at work.
The American Bar Association (ABA) has written extensively on the warning signs for legal professionals to look out for. I would add to what they’ve provided with the following tip:
It’s time to get serious about leveraging the different meditation and anxiety relief apps available on our smartphones. Some of the best law firms I’ve worked with leverage these tools by providing employees with free subscriptions to apps like Calm and Headspace.
It might sound trivial, but these apps are readily accessible. When a member of your team needs a break, they can punch-out and fire up the app. Just 5-10 minutes away from the grind can promote mental wellness.
Obviously, this should be part of a much larger push to ensure mental health services are offered to your team. But it’s not a bad start. And it’s so simple!
If you can effectively communicate to potential new hires that your firm is leveraging technology to enhance the work/life balance of your team, you’re going to place yourself in a better position to secure and retain talented legal professionals.