A business cannot function properly without a consistent process, proper legal project management, and division of labor among staff. In law firms, tasks can come from many sources – clients, partners, or firm management. The distribution of these tasks generally depends on specialization, skills and time sensitivity. Unfortunately, what is not mentioned in this list is bandwidth. Accounting for staff workloads can be difficult in situations where there are too many urgent tasks or limited staff. If your staff is overloaded with tasks, the likelihood of items falling through the cracks increases as well as burnout. Both of these factors lead to reduced productivity and business disruption.
To limit risks to business continuity or the mental health of your staff, it is essential that law firms create streamlined and consistent systems to distribute workloads and keep all employees on the same page. .
Here are 3 tips for better legal project management and better distribution of labor for law firm staff:
1. Plan and strategize
Effective work distribution requires thorough planning and strategy with real-time visibility into staff schedules and workloads. This is especially true of large companies with a lot of staff. If partners or management are not aware of the balance of each associate or staff member, they may unintentionally overload them.
Ideally, there should be a centralized task management system that management uses to schedule and assign work to associates and other staff. This system should be updated daily and would provide up-to-date information on everyone’s current responsibilities. This ensures that management and partners can monitor their workloads and avoid piling everything on just a few people.
With this information at their fingertips, partners and management can make strategic decisions to ensure the right work is assigned to the right personnel.
2. Distribute the work fairly
Overloading some associates and leaving others underutilized can quickly lead to burnout issues, poor work-life balance, and job dissatisfaction. At a time when companies are struggling to attract and retain talent, a good division of labor is paramount.
Law firm management software can help partners and firm management distribute work fairly. LPMs provide a complete view of staff and their time, schedule and skills, giving partners and management all the information they need to develop all staff skills and maintain workload more balanced. Workloads also need to be balanced across departments. The distribution of work requires planning, especially in large companies with multiple departments or offices. All the more reason to make the division of labor a strategic and streamlined process.
Work distribution processes can be standardized and systematized across the firm, offices and practice groups. Law firms can set this up on their own with task and time management solutions, but if necessary a larger firm can hire support staff to manage the distribution of work and develop systems to assign the work to the appropriate parties.
For example, a work dispatch manager can manage workflows and monitor skills and availability across practice areas, departments, and locations to ensure the entire machine is running smoothly.
3. Track development needs
It’s tempting to assign high-priority tasks to the most skilled and experienced associates or staff, but that doesn’t meet the long-term needs of the business. If the same staff members continue to learn, grow and succeed, it leaves gaps in skills and experience in others.
Law firms need to have an overview of each partner’s qualifications, skills and competencies, areas for growth and skills they want to develop in the future. This provides a more democratic method of assigning tasks while allowing the whole team to learn and grow together. Law firm management software with custom reporting features can help track user activity or tasks that have been historically assigned to simplify this process.
If significant skill gaps are discovered, law firms should take a proactive approach to correcting them. All associates and staff must have management training, business development training, customer training and communication training. Associates must have ongoing development in areas related to their practice or corporate goals. Partners and Managers should be available for ongoing support and mentorship to help Associates stay on track to achieve their goals.
The Importance of Legal Project Management
Managing legal projects and distributing work between teams can be a unique and ongoing challenge. However, with the right systems and processes in place, your company can ensure that work is distributed evenly and fairly. When done strategically, not only will it help move work forward and support productivity, but it will improve your staff’s overall workplace satisfaction. Above all, the livelihood and health of your staff is the true marker of a successful business.
©2006-2022, BILL4TIME. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 174