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When you work for a legal firm with a clear focus on finding new clients, satisfying existing clients and growing the overall business, this outward-looking approach can lead you to hire talented new team members to help pick up the extra work. However, for an in-house legal team, it can take time for the need for extra resourcing to filter through to senior management because the legal team is supporting the delivery of the primary operations of the company rather than delivering them directly.
It can be difficult for your legal staff to keep on top of shifting priorities and high workload, especially when you’re on the verge of hiring extra team members but you’re not quite there yet. In this article, we share a few tips for helping your legal team make the most of limited resources while remaining motivated to succeed.
Engage every part of the business with your organisation’s objectives
An in-house legal team’s workload revolves around the activities of the business, and a new opportunity can cause a shift in focus – which may be disruptive if not handled carefully. Aim to continually align the legal team’s goals with those of the wider business to ensure that high-priority work receives the most time and attention. If your legal team understands and is energised by how its work impacts the business, it is likely to increase its productivity and efficiency.
Also look for ways in which you can utilise time-saving solutions such as document management software to streamline repeat processes, which should help fast-track high-priority work while moving along lower-priority (but necessary) tasks. This also means that your brightest legal minds can make the best use of their time, rather than drowning in admin.
Recognise the contribution of your team
When time is tight and it is hard to juggle even the most well-prioritised workload, morale can quickly sink, leaving your legal team feeling despondent. This can be especially demoralising if everyone has been working flat out to deliver on your objectives, and yet still things keep falling behind.
Look for signs that your legal colleagues are struggling, despite their best efforts, and aim to show your employees how much you value their hard work. A little appreciation goes a long way! If you take the time to honour hard work and achievements, both in busy times and quiet ones (such as when they find the opportunity to complete a valuable project that had become low priority by default), then your staff will be more motivated to keep delivering excellent work.
Focus on training, support and career development
In the same way that you should recognise the many things your legal team does well, from the clearly visible (offering excellent legal advice) to the more subtle (such as creating a positive working environment), it’s also important to make sure that everyone has the training and career development support they need to flourish.
If you encourage your employees to reach their potential and fulfil their personal and professional goals, you have the best chance of building a resilient team that can handle the demands of the job. If everyone is operating at their best and aiming to exceed expectations (while feeling valued by your training and career development investment), a culture of hard work and success should evolve.
Warning: Be aware that hard work and high demands can result in stress and burnout. Encourage your team to work hard, by all means, but also be reasonable – no amount of training and support can smooth over the damage an incessantly high workload could cause even the most dedicated team. If the workload really is a constant challenge to manage, you may need to bite the bullet and look at hiring more in-house staff, or think about outsourcing certain functions in the short term.
The clear message is to support your colleagues in all parts of the business – which means aligning their work with the organisation’s vision, recognising how valuable their work is to the success of the business and showing your commitment to them by offering training and career development opportunities. If you look out for your employees across the board (from revenue-generating staff to essential operating staff, such as your in-house legal team), they will help you keep your business in tip-top shape.
Integrating time-saving IT solutions could help your legal team manage fluctuating workload, communicate more efficiently and track progress across projects. To find out more about how DPS Software can support your in-house legal team, contact us today.