Stress, mental health issues, burnout are terms never too far away when discussing the issues of the modern corporate lawyer.
Indeed, even the most rudimentary research will show countless news and features from the legal press painting a gloomy picture of the 2019 legal professional as they try to keep their sanity in an increasingly complex arena.
Now, as a business which provides transcription services to many law firms, we do not think it would be right, or credible if we were to discuss in great detail all the varying factors which are detrimental to this much respected profession.
Therefore, we will concentrate on what we know, so we won’t be talking about the overarching mental health problems, the pressures from a more open market, etc., etc. Instead we will be concentrating on what we do feel qualified to talk about, which is delegation.
This year will in all probability see the outsourcing industry hit a record high. That in itself is not surprising. After all, modern technology has aided many to concentrate on what they are good at and call on others to join them in focusing on fee earning activities.
However, in the hurly burly of the modern legal world, the issue of delegation is something that cannot be underestimated, which needs the oxygen of publicity for the welfare of thousands of bright legal experts who are running on empty.
Modern caseloads leave many lawyers working crazy hours and their health suffers, but do they really have to spend so much time at work?
Many will say that it’s just the way it is, and no two law firms are the same, but have you noticed how there always seems to be those solicitors, barristers etc. who appear to navigate their way through workloads better than most.
Analysis of these super beings is worth the effort, but too many don’t take the time to look at what they do, how they work - instead they continue to battle through each day.
Well simply put, whilst these individuals will have lots of enviable habits, one we know about is the art of delegation.
We know about it because we are the ones who assist them.
For instance, let’s talk about barristers. Morale is low amongst some, but think how many can make the choice to free up several hours a week, perhaps more to call on someone faster at typing than them to do much of their transcription work.
To add to this, tasks such as diary management, document production, forms, file opening, etc. all add up to time which could be better served elsewhere on fee earning related work, for example.
Another question along similar lines is why would a highly qualified lawyer capable of great things spend hundreds of hours tapping away on a keyboard when a typist can, by any measure, be roughly twice as fast as they will be at typing up case notes etc.? To add to this outsourcing is tried and tested, and, in our case, SRA approved.
In many ways this is blindingly obvious, but when we are hectic, stressed with busy work loads, we can’t always see what appears clear. A mind fogged up with work, new urgent matters arriving regularly can befuddle the best of us.
We then become firefighters, concentrating on the ever urgent, instead of planning on the more important tasks, which can extinguish those fires.
Due to an acceptance of outsourcing firms like ourselves, doing services as in the above example, we have been able to build a business that is thriving.
However, like all companies, we are only there because we serve a need. In many ways, it’s the ‘delegation need’. What lawyers choose to do with the extra hours we give them back is up to them.
It can be working harder to get ahead, instead on the minutiae of the cases, it can be achieving more of a work/life balance, so they have more time for family and friends. Whatever it is, it is their choice to use it as they see best.
The legal world, especially amongst the brightest and best, is facing issues like it has never seen before. An opening up of the legal industry means a newer set of skills are needed to thrive - we are seeing a very different, more commercially aware legal professional coming to the fore.
Tending to this new landscape means only those who are the best will rise to the top. These are professionals with focus, who realise they can’t do it all. To get to the summit we all need a little help along the way.
The art of delegation is just one part of the jigsaw to help individuals and firms achieve maximum efficiency, and businesses of the right calibre (like us) have the necessary ISO certificates in place to provide the guarantee that the delegation is wise. However, without passing the work on underachievement is never far away.
Multiple skills make the best stand out, and strive for higher levels of efficiency, knowing there are a plethora of options out there to make our everyday working life more efficient is worthy of investigation for those who have until now not given outsourcing the attention it surely deserves.
Maxine Park is the founder of DictateNow, the largest digital dictation and transcription specialist in the UK http://dictatenow.net/
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