Are These Things Affecting Your Law Firm’s Productivity?


Do you think your practice could be operating at higher productivity level? There are several factors that can keep your firm from reaching its maximum productivity level. By clinging to old habits and failing to use more efficient methods, law firms can risk profits. Here are three common efficiency killers, with tips on how to help your firm become more productive:

Email Overload

According to renowned research firm McKinsey Global Institute, high-skill knowledge workers spend 28% of their workweek managing their inboxes. However, the amount of time lost on emailing doesn’t end here. Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine found that office workers are interrupted roughly every three minutes. Once interrupted, it can take 23 minutes for a worker to return to their original task.

These email distractions not only detract from your attorneys’ ability to do their job well, but they also can add up in billable hours, ultimately costing your firm (and your client) thousands of dollars. To improve efficiency, law firms should work to cut mass internal emails by 90%.

While emails may contain essential information, it doesn’t mean that such information needs to be communicated by email. Make use of alternate communication channels for low priority matters on instant messaging platforms like Slack. Rather than remind colleagues about Thursday’s potluck, post a sign/flyer in common areas.

Finally, consider using articulate subject lines to help attorneys filter through emails faster and prioritize their importance. Take that logic a step further and implement a uniform protocol for all internal emails. This means trashing vague email with subjects like “hey” and “please read”, and favoring subject lines that define importance and whether or not a timely response is necessary.

Inefficient Meetings

Many meetings are poorly organized, poorly facilitated, and highly inefficient. In fact, fifty percent of working professionals believe that meetings are an unnecessary, wasteful distraction.

A Clarizen/Harris Interactive survey found that only 40% of employees think status update meetings waste valuable time. 70% say these meetings don’t help them get any work done. And while meetings themselves are often complete time-wasters, 67% of employees will spend up to four hours per week preparing for their next status update meeting. How’s that for productivity?

Ensure your firm meetings are more productive by setting a clear agenda and stick to it. Seek input from participants before the meeting to make sure that all necessary topics are covered and the primary goal of the meeting isn’t derailed by sidebars. Clearly identify a facilitator to oversee the execution of the agenda and keep the meeting according to schedule. Consider using a countdown clock to keep participants aware of how much time remains.

Bad Hiring Decisions

All too often, law firms are hiring under pressure -- whether it’s due to a sudden increase in work or because a valuable team member has moved on to other opportunities. A word of caution for those under pressure: the cost of a bad hire can do more damage than not hiring someone at all.

Obvious costs like advertising, recruitment, and internal training, can result in the loss of productivity as well as the time spent to ensure the candidate is brought up to speed. Realizing that a candidate is unqualified after the fact means dedicating internal resources to conduct the search again. High turnover rates for any organization can be detrimental, killing productivity and depleting resources.

Finding the right match requires time and attention, and it's something even busy law firms need to make time for. However, the search doesn’t need to be difficult. Avoid making bad hiring decisions by partnering with agencies such as Hire an Esquire, who can provide attorneys on a contract or permanent basis depending on your hiring needs.

Hire an Esquire uses a sophisticated online platform that analyzes a candidate’s experience and expertise to make the best career match with law firms and legal departments of all sizes. With a network of 5,000+ vetted attorneys available across the United States, you can make the right hire the first time.

If you feel like your law firm is suffering or falling behind the competition, but you’re not sure why, one of these productivity-killers could be the culprit. Maintaining and enhancing productivity in the workplace is not always easy to accomplish, but taking the time to examine how your firm operates on at every level and making small changes to improve efficiency could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.