How can law firms support their talent through post-pandemic stress?

The Link AppBy Legal Futures Associate The Link App

The legal sector has made it through the pandemic, due to law firms applying a mixture of cost-cutting measures and staff going above and beyond to meet client expectations. Week in and week out, for over eighteen months. People have been raising issues of stress, wellbeing and mental health in the legal sector for years now. And recently LexisNexis Bellwether report, found 38% of lawyers saying they would not go into law if they were starting over. “The strange mix of high job satisfaction, worrying stress levels and career regret paints a complicated picture,” says the report. “Lawyers may feel their jobs are fulfilling, but spending more time at home has perhaps pushed some to reevaluate if the pressures of the job are worth it.” The trials of the pandemic and a huge turnover rate, many sectors are now seeing “The Great Resignation”. Calling for law firms to ensure they are being proactive and urgently prioritising the serious implications, to retain their best talent.

Before the pandemic began, The Law Society’s Junior Lawyer Division (2019) found with their wellbeing survey that 19% of lawyers surveyed feeling “regularly” unable to cope with the pressure of their workload. 66% of them citing disrupted sleep as one of the effects, also discovering statistics on anxiety, emotional upset and fatigue, negative/depressed thoughts. Many reported feeling tired before even starting work. The two most frequently cited causes of this work-related stress were high workloads and meeting high expectations and demands of clients. Everyone endures stressful periods at work. However, when this many respondents reported feeling “tired before starting work” it becomes a significant cause for concern for employers if it persists.

The Junior Lawyers Division recommends firms look at three areas: Firstly support to provide employees with the tools they need to effectively manage and raise any issues directly affecting them; Secondly working culture to ensure and promote a positive working culture which is able to address issues of mental health; Finally, training, investments in HR and management such as the Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) initiative.

There is no magic bullet here that will solve everything, the more quick actionable solution is addressing these problems where they tend to start. And changing work practises directly, running a few experiments and seeing if they benefit your firm.

Thrive Law recommends flexible working as a way to tackle overwork and burnout: “if you or your employee feel like they will be more productive with their time on certain projects or deadlines working flexibly, then have that conversation with them. Encourage working from home or days out of the office to change up their routine and avoid overworking or burnout.”

In their recent Life in The Law report, LawCare found that just giving lawyers more autonomy over their workload and how they manage time can have huge benefits. “Studies have found that high job control and a supportive, collegial culture protects individuals from work-related stress and the negative effects of any stressors that are experienced. Job control reflects the ability of an individual to manage and organise their own work, set their pace of work and take breaks. It also refers to the capacity to make decisions about the type and nature of work undertaken. Autonomy at work has been linked to many positive outcomes such as motivation, performance, and job involvement. Perceptions of agency and control over one’s work have also been found to reduce the risk of burnout and health problems and enhance work-life balance and retention.”

They also found that the intensity of their workload was an issue: 75% of lawyers agreed that their workload was unpredictable. One interesting finding was that 64.5% of lawyers said they needed to check emails outside of work hours to keep up with their workload, but only 28% said their work required them to be available to clients 24/7. Do you really need to be checking emails when you could be resting up for the week ahead, or is this a bad habit you could try to eliminate?

When asked about suggested workplace measures, the LawCare respondents requested “a fair and balanced workload and wished for more flexibility and choice. The request for work-life balance to be considered was also framed in terms of a request for culture change.” One in-house lawyer suggested “be realistic about the balance between workloads and available resources and also reduce the admin burden.”

A lot of these problems and solutions overlap with our work at The Link App. We make law firms 34% more productive by transforming their enquiries and digital onboarding processes, and over the rest of the case you’ll find that keeping in touch with your clients could not be easier, whether our platform is keeping them updated on their case progress or chasing them up on your behalf. So many phone calls, emails and unnecessary admin tasks are just cleared out of your way, letting you focus on the work that makes a difference.

When working with clients, The Link App can complement an in-person service with tools like Digital ID Verification saving you both a meeting, or can enable your team to work fully-remote. If your firm has a more flexible / hybrid situation, The Link App keeps your work in one place, accessible on any device, and our instant messaging allows lawyers to collaborate seamlessly on cases no matter where they are.

This could pose a challenge for managers, who need to be able to see their whole firm at a glance. With our new Management Information Report, we make it easy for managers to see what’s going on with workloads and KPIs—how that work is distributed and how it’s progressing—wherever their team is working from.

The Link App was created to transform the client experience provided by law firms; traditional profession, modern approach. We drive the profession forward through a full-service, white-labelled platform including convenient and secure communications, digital onboarding, case tracking and document sharing between legal professionals and their clients, anywhere, any time, on any device. Book a short demo today, and see why 75% of lawyers who do begin transforming how their firm operates in just 30 days.


Associate News is provided by Legal Futures Associates.
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