By Gareth Walker, CEO at Legal Futures Associate LEAP
Employers are currently facing a once-in-a-generation skills shortage. The loss of a talented team member was once a burden, but now the costly difficulty of replacing a good employee is a potential threat to business.
Record unemployment lows and an increase in competition has driven the need for law firms to attract and retain talent. SME law firms are reviewing the benefits, productivity tools, working day and models of working that they offer as a result of the growing need to attract skilled employees.
Technology can enable law firms to future proof their businesses, ensuring their staff and client needs are satisfied. By embracing legal practice management software and implementing self-service technology, law firms can automate lengthy processes, stand out from the competition and overcome the skills shortage the industry is facing.
Here are some ways technology can help law firms attract and retain talent.
1. Create flexible working solutions
Using effective technology streamlines processes and offers employees more rewarding careers. This enables a focus on more valuable and interesting work, significantly reducing time spent on every day, repetitive, and non-billable administrative tasks. Law firms can attract and retain the best people because they want to work with the best technology.
SME law firms have the agility to implement innovative technology solutions quickly. This means they can deliver superior client service and flexible working conditions more easily than their larger counterparts. Law firms offering genuinely flexible working conditions are luring solicitors who are exhausted by long office weeks and commuting away from their current roles.
2. Win back staff
Parenthood can interrupt or end a career but that doesn’t need to be the case. Effective legal practice management facilitates flexible hybrid working solutions, enabling firms to attract lawyers with family commitments by offering the chance to work from multiple locations. A typical day no longer needs to be so structured; cloud practice productivity solutions provide lawyers with the capability to work the way they truly want and will help win back the best employees.
3. Invest and upskill junior lawyers
Junior lawyers are the future of the profession but may lack the legal expertise or business acumen necessary that comes with experience. As technology develops and more tasks are being automated, young lawyers are also most at risk. Law firms must have a plan in place to train and upskill these future experts and technology can help. Up-to-date legal guides available on legal publishing software can provide junior lawyers with the crucial training they need to progress, as well as templates and forms that they can tailor for client needs. This reduces barriers to development, enabling senior lawyers to delegate work and junior lawyers to work and learn independently.
4. Keep lawyers doing what they love
A typical day for lawyers can be filled with tasks such as chasing overdue invoices, tracking each billable unit, training others and scheduling meetings. Lawyers are leaving the profession because they are unable to simply practise law. Fortunately, many of these tasks are now automated by good practice management software. Tasks such as signing documents, paying by credit card or tracking billable time can all be automated, freeing up lawyers to practise law.
5. Access skilled expertise beyond traditional borders
Firms no longer need to limit their search for new talent to just their office proximity or within the current job market. Cloud technology centralises a law firm’s client and matter information, keeping it updated in real-time and accessible to all. Lawyers and support staff can work for their practice from anywhere in the world, expanding the talent pool for law firms. For firms that rely on cloud-based practice management software, geography is no longer a boundary to attracting clients, managing their matters or engaging expertise.
By thinking long term and investing in technology, firms can transform their business operations to attract talent, support staff and stay ahead of the competition.