Changes can sneak in on a legal team. Over time, the workload may increase, or key aspects of cases and issues may shift to overlap new practice areas or emerging topics in the law.
Because these changes are subtle, it can be difficult to tell when the balance has tipped far enough to justify supplementing your current team of attorneys.
Here are four warning signs that indicate your team needs additional help:
1. Your attorneys are overworked or overwhelmed.
Fatigue and burnout present themselves in various ways. For instance, the number of sick days taken by your team may increase. Attorneys may be present in the office physically, but not mentally. Tasks that would normally have been completed well in advance may be dashed off just shy of their deadline instead.
If signs of overwork are appearing, it’s essential to find additional assistance for your team – or risk losing some of your best attorneys entirely.
2. Business is expanding.
Whether as the result of a planned growth strategy or in response to changes in the practice of law, many legal departments find themselves growing faster or in different ways than expected. And while many legal teams can handle a bit of additional work, the more they’re asked to do in the long term, the more likely they are to struggle with it.
Look at the number and complexity of matters handled in the past year, and compare this number to previous years. If growth is present, it may be time to give your team the extra support it needs to handle the expanding responsibilities.
3. Your staff never go home.
Another way overwork can express itself is by keeping attorneys in the office for longer. While law is by nature a long-hours profession, all your staff should be fairly predictable when it comes to time spent in the office.
When staff seem to be working long hours, or when they stop taking vacation time, chances are they’re doing so because they’re overworked – and they need help managing that workload before they burn out.
4. Partners are doing associate or paralegal work.
If your senior-level attorneys are starting to pitch in on tasks normally assigned to junior-level attorneys or paralegals, it’s past time to find additional assistance for your team. This imbalance typically happens when an increased workload increases the number of urgent tasks, but less high-value in terms of experience required.
By finding qualified assistance for your legal team, you can help ensure that your highest-value staff are focused on the highest-value tasks, while tasks that do not require a high level of experience can be assigned to appropriate alternative resources
At Assigned Counsel®, our attorney recruiters help law firms and legal departments rethink their staffing strategies, so you always have the qualified talent you need when you need it. To learn more, contact us today.