More time on admin, less time to think.
Seventy percent of partners and fee earners in the legal sector are spending more time on administrative tasks compared with five years ago, according to a survey by Lexacom Digital Dictation in partnership with the London Legal Support Trust. Nearly half of all respondents feel their workload is too heavy.
Limited time is not only stopping survey respondents from doing more client work, it’s getting in the way of innovation – which could have consequences further down the line if firms don’t have time to consider how they are going to adapt to changing demands and priorities.
With more time, most respondents say they would do things more thoroughly and spend time coming up with new ideas. However, the survey shows lack of support staff and heavy workloads are the main barriers to productivity.
Dr Andrew Whiteley, Managing Director of Lexacom, commented: “In an increasingly competitive marketplace, there is even greater pressure on firms and individuals to do more in less time. Law firms need to find smarter ways of working to manage heavy workloads so that their professionals can focus on delivering the high value work expected of them.”
Less than 10 percent of fee earners and partners feel that they are already very efficient. When asked what processes or systems would help improve efficiency, over half said more administrative support, with better planning cited by over 40 percent.
While some organisations have looked to reduce overheads by cutting back on admin resources, the hidden costs could be significant. Andrew Whiteley continued: “If partners are typing their own documents, the chances are they are not as efficient or accurate as a trained secretary. With the increase in use of secure cloud technology, systems such as digital dictation and workflow with integrated outsourced transcription can ensure documents get produced accurately and on time, without costly admin overheads.”
It’s not just firms that would benefit from freeing up more time. Over 30 percent of all respondents said they would do more pro bono work if they had an extra hour in their day. Bob Nightingale, Chief Executive of the London Legal Support Trust, said: “At a time when providing fair access to legal advice is under threat, it’s great to see that so many respondents would be keen to take on more pro bono work. However, tackling workload clearly has to come first before we can tap into any additional resources.”
The survey also showed there is a demand for more flexible ways of working, with a call for firms to make better use of secure cloud technology, as well as a need to adopt more user friendly and intuitive software and buying newer or better computers and equipment.
A third of all respondents do not have the right technology in place to allow them to work from different locations, which they say would help them achieve a better work-life balance as well as improving efficiency and productivity in the workplace.
Dr Andrew Whiteley added: “There have been huge advances in secure mobile and cloud technology in recent years. Where people used to be restricted to one office because of the limitations of technology, there is now much more freedom to work wherever and whenever it suits you.
“It’s clear from people’s answers that working more flexibly has all sorts of benefits, both personally and in terms of better productivity, so there are opportunities to unlock greater efficiencies if law firms are prepared to invest in the right technology.” He concluded.
Lexacom Digital Dictation and the London Legal Support Trust conducted the survey among almost 200 people working in the legal industry, to identify barriers to productivity and how technology could help firms do more in less time.
Notes to editors
About Lexacom Lexacom digital dictation software is used to create millions of documents every year by professionals in the legal, healthcare and financial professions.
The software enables authors to flag the importance of a dictation, while admin teams can immediately see both the priority and length of the dictation and can plan their workload accordingly. The software offers secure mobile dictation, optional voice recognition, secure outsourced transcription, multi-site information sharing and advanced management and reporting features.
Lexacom provides a flexible service which can be tailored to individual clients. They offer a free, no-obligation 30 day trial to all new customers and provide excellent support through their UK technical team.
Lexacom began working with the London Legal Support Trust in 2011 and has continued to support the trust, through both sponsorship and use of technology.
About the LLST The London Legal Support Trust works to support law centres and legal advice agencies in London and the South East by providing them with grant funding alongside other forms of support. This is done by holding large fundraising events, most notably the London Legal walk, and then delivering the funds raised to the agencies where they are most needed through grant rounds. The LLST offers its knowledge and experience of the sector to help the agencies to become more sustainable and help to partner them with law firms and chambers who want to help them ensure that the law is fair.
The LLST is part of a network of seven Legal Support Trusts across England and in Wales working with the Access to Justice Foundation to support pro bono and advice agencies, ensuring funds can be distributed where needed most throughout England and Wales. To find out more visit www.accesstojusticefoundation.org.uk