Excessive workloads and the urgent necessity to stay in the office overtime are the two unpleasant partners most legal professionals face in their day-to-day activity. Eventually, the constant need to juggle work tasks and personal life forces lawyers to quit their hobbies or cut down precious time reserved for friends and family.
Yet, companies rarely benefit from such sacrifices. On the contrary, busy schedules paired with high expectations for quick results never improve employees’ productivity but frequently lead to their professional burnout.
In this blog post, we’ll share some useful tips on how to bring a healthy work/life balance to your legal department. Try them out to help your team members stay content and efficient.
Tip 1: Outsource
Hiring an external legal services provider to get some professional support from outside is not a brand new practice in the business world. But companies used to engage law firms mainly on an ad hoc basis, for instance, to get advice on core legal operations or resolve disputes. At the same time, delegating mundane tasks to external vendors wasn’t quite convenient since most legal matters require an immediate response.
However, this has changed in recent years. The global digitalization of the legal industry has practically eliminated most risks associated with remote cooperation and prompted the popularity of legal process outsourcing (LPO). According to the market report, the worldwide LPO market size is expected to hit $35.9 billion by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 31.8%.
Using LPO as a way to establish work/life balance in your legal department is a quite effective option. It will allow you to quickly relieve your in-house lawyers from the excessive number of simple and repetitive tasks like contract management, internal database support, or secretarial duties.
Tip 2: Cultivate Deep Work
The concept of deep work was coined by Cal Newport, a professor of Georgetown University and author of several self-improvement books. Simply put, it’s an ability to focus entirely on a single intellectually demanding task and, as a result, perform it in less time. For you as a general counsel or legal manager, it’s impossible to develop this skill in team members. However, you can create a work environment that would be favorable for prolonged periods of concentration.
Exactly what do we mean by that? First of all, you should minimize multitasking among your employees. Realistically, it would be hard to get rid of all unexpected and urgent issues. But when they arise, you must set clear priorities for in-house lawyers so they can plan their time accordingly. On top of that, it would be great if you could organize a distraction-free working space. For example, you can initiate moving all phone calls and discussions to separate meeting rooms.
Establishing a quiet and work-oriented space will encourage your team members to spend their time in the office more productively and reduce the need for overtime. But be cautious not to go too far with cultivating a deep work ethic. Collecting cell phones and asking employees to delete their social media accounts would definitely be too extreme measures that are strongly not recommended.
Tip 3: Streamline Processes
In many business sectors, following predefined processes is essential to complete tasks successfully. It allows employees to avoid common errors and saves hours. For instance, medical protocols provide guidelines for doctors to ensure proper patient treatment, while airplane engineering standards guarantee flight safety.
Similar practices might be implemented in your legal department. Specifically, you can create clear checklists that will help your team members effectively deal with routine legal processes such as drafting PoAs or board minutes. Find out some handy recommendations on this topic in The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande. Additionally, developing a shared knowledge base would be a nice idea if you want to build a foundation for improvements that have a long-term effect.
Create checklists to help your team effectively deal with routine legal processes
Tip 4: Automate Document Drafting
Document automation is another crucial step toward legal process optimization. It will help you reduce the time your team spends drafting routine documents (NDAs, DPAs, SLAs, etc.). As a result, you’ll make the employees’ workload easily manageable within the traditional office hours.
In this context, AXDRAFT is one of the options you can find on the market today. It allows to create dynamic error-free templates explicitly tailored to the needs of your legal department. With AXDRAFT, you can speed up the drafting process for typical documents such as sales agreements or contract claims by more than ten times. Check out these success stories of our clients to get more info.
Also, AXDRAFT eliminates the necessity of back-and-forth document reviews. Actually, it makes the document assembly so easy and effortless that a lot of paperwork might be delegated to other departments (e.g., HR, sales) with no risk at all.
You can speed up the drafting process for typical documents such as sales agreements or contract claims by more than ten times
Tip 5: Eradicate Bad Office Habits
Receiving work-related messages late at night and staying in the office while sick can turn even a favorite job into an unbearable burden. So, if you want to have truly motivated people in your team, such practices must be eradicated. The same applies to arranging team meetings for no particular reason, setting tight deadlines when there are no objective circumstances that cause a hurry, being overly controlling, and asking about task accomplishment progress one million times a day.
Some managers believe that encouraging employees to beat the clock all the time increases the team’s productivity. But it’s just a popular misconception. In practice, no one likes working under pressure. Besides, unrealistic demands often become the main prerequisite for high employee turnover since exhausted team members lose their motivation much faster.
What can you do instead? The first and foremost step is to show your team that you value quality and efficiency, not the number of overtime hours. It would also be great if you could become a role model for other employees, openly expressing your support of a balanced lifestyle.
The Final Word
The fast pace of today’s business world makes it challenging for most lawyers to maintain a work/life balance. But if you establish the right culture in your legal department, this goal will become easily achievable. Delegate routine tasks to an external LPO provider, promote the deep work approach, get rid of annoying office practices, streamline the processes, and automate document generation with AXDRAFT. Your team will be grateful, we promise.