“Work smarter, not harder.” How many times have the attorneys and staff of legal departments heard this old saying? In fact, productivity is about more than working “harder” – it’s also about knowing where to focus your attention for the best results. By focusing attention where it is most productive, legal department employees automatically increase their own productivity, improving the work of the department as a whole.
To improve your legal department’s productivity in 2014, consider the following tips:
- Clarify client expectations. By being upfront with clients about what both you and they expect from the relationship, you not only improve productivity by understanding where to focus your energies, but you also improve communications with the clients themselves. Communicate to build a collaborative relationship with clients, as well as to set clear boundaries regarding what your department will do – and what clients should do themselves.
- Provide guidance before it’s needed. As laws and regulations proliferate, clients need more than just the support available by contacting the legal department. They also need information and guidance on understanding the regulations and laws that apply to them. Improve productivity by “pre-delivering” legal advice regarding standard questions clients will regularly face and ensuring clients read it. For example, if there are certain contract terms your organization will never accept, make sure the relevant parties know what they are and why they should be avoided.
- Set office hours. As college or law students, most legal department staff became familiar with the idea of “office hours” as a guaranteed time to contact their professors. In fact, professors set office hours for themselves as much as for their students. This scheduled “time for interruptions” ensures that the professor’s time outside office hours isn’t interrupted. Setting office hours for client’s works in much the same way, allowing clients to meet face to face with attorneys while giving attorneys a chance to “schedule interruptions” and focus more deeply outside office hours.
- Think “throughput.” Many attorneys believe that increasing output will increase productivity, but in fact, increasing output is pointless if the end result is not particularly useful to the company or client. Instead, focus on improving “throughput” – products that are useful both during the process of legal work and during the end result. For instance, an analysis of contract disputes is valuable “throughput” if it reveals which contract terms are never disputed, because it tells attorneys where they can stop wasting their time.
The experienced recruiters at Assigned Counsel can help you find the experienced legal help you need to jumpstart your legal department’s productivity in 2014. Contact our experienced team today.