By Richard Hugo-Hamman, Executive Chairman of Legal Futures’ Associates LEAP Legal Software 
In the UK unemployment has fallen to the lowest level since 1975 with employers now facing a skills shortage. Employees are choosing to move to greener pastures and the inability to replace a good employee may now pose an existential threat to your business.
Technology can help law firms do more work with the same number of people. It achieves this by automating administrative tasks, helping lawyers to work more effectively and get home on time – a promise your competitors cannot always offer.
Legal support roles like secretaries and bookkeepers are no longer as popular because people seek high-prestige employment with the promise of strong wage growth. Junior lawyers currently complete this work but this solution is costly and the work menial. Technology can help here by being better, faster and cheaper than any employee.
Competition for your staff is now coming from new entrants to the legal market, including the alternative legal services market and the Big 4 accounting firms. Such firms use technology or different approaches to workflow, practice management or billing.
A simple solution
Using good technology can offer employees more rewarding careers filled with valuable, interesting work. Good technology can dispense with dull, repetitive and non-billable administrative work.
Legal technology frees lawyers to work flexibly. By maximising the use of technology and implementing flexible working conditions, law firms can attract and keep the best talent.
Here is some guidance on how your law firm can overcome the skills shortage:
Use technology and allow your legal staff to get home on time
Technology is both the cause of and solution to your skills shortage. In the past decade, technology has shrunk the work of legal bookkeepers from full-time to freelance and automated much of what legal secretaries, paralegals and junior lawyers do. More than ever, lawyers are empowered to focus on billable client work.
Attracted by the promise of flexible and remote working, perks like casual wear and the opportunity to go home on time, skilled lawyers are flocking to forward-thinking firms and alternative models that are embracing new working practices and technology.
The introduction of Service Portals
A recent study showed 40% of online appointment scheduling is occurring after hours. Service portals allow clients to request or reschedule an appointment at a time convenient to all. Prospective clients can complete instruction forms online, providing essential information about their case and saving you, their lawyer, the need to input the data. Such automation replaces the time-consuming back and forth of communications between parties, takes the onus off of the lawyer to input the data correctly and eliminates the risk of information getting lost in translation. Your clients can provide the information at a time that is convenient for them.
Offer flexibility to win back your staff
With good practice management software, your lawyers can work between court sessions or add new matters on their mobile after a client meeting. LEAP software allows lawyers to work the way they want to. With good practice management software, law firms can provide flexible work conditions.
Automate mundane tasks to keep lawyers doing what they love
Too often, lawyers leave the profession because they don’t get the chance to practise law. Their days are busy with chasing up overdue invoices, tracking billable time, training juniors or trying to schedule a client meeting or obtain signatures from a client.
With technology, you can automate the work that lawyers hate. Let lawyers to do the work they love and work how they want.
Access skilled expertise beyond the cities
Cloud-based practice management software means firms no longer need to limit their search for expertise based on their office location. Cloud technology is available on desktop and mobile devices, empowering both lawyers and support staff to work off-site at a time that suits them.
Empowering firms to compete effectively
Technology empowers law firms to effectively compete. Technology can automate non-billable administrative tasks, helping to get your lawyers home on time. By implementing a good practice management system, your lawyers can work from home or between court sessions and client meetings, allowing them to make the most of their day.
By providing practical legal guides and step-by-step matter plans, commentaries, forms and precedents, you can attract and train talented junior lawyers who will become the future of your firm. Manual tasks once dreaded by lawyers are now automated.
Use technology to reimagine how your firm runs, how your lawyers work and what their careers can offer. Find the solutions lawyers need to continue their career through parenthood and part-time after retirement. This is how you can overcome the skills shortage.
LEAP Legal Software has been helping small to mid-sized law firms to become more efficient and profitable, globally, for more than 25 years. www.leap.co.uk