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Long hours, frequent disruptions, changing work environments, billing hours targets, the uncertainty baked into our legal systems, and more. Law is stressful and demanding. For many lawyers, binge drinking, misusing drugs, and experiencing mental health challenges begin as early as law school

Entering today’s high-pressure legal field doesn’t make life any easier. Researchers recently found a remarkable increase in the time lawyers feel burnt out. Lawyers report disrupted sleep, anxiety, personal relationships issues, depression, physical health issues, and for some, a higher incidence of drug and alcohol abuse as they struggle with:

  • the inability to disconnect from work, 
  • heavier workloads or more professional responsibilities, 
  • trouble focusing on work tasks, and 
  • new or increased personal responsibilities.  

By strategically implementing technology tools, law firms can help lawyers better manage their workloads, work how and where they want, avoid mistakes, stay up to date, and more to ultimately improve their overall well-being.

5 tech-driven ways to help improve lawyer well-being.

1. Provide equitable career development opportunities. 

AI-driven analyses can remove biases in manual work allocation methods. Automated matter intake and work allocation tools base work assignments on individual skills, experience, cost, and availability. 

Partners who simply look for a nearby associate or randomly pick an associate’s name off a list aren’t providing the same kind of meaningful career development opportunities that firms can when they use automated work allocation methods. It’s a benefit that can also aid in recruiting and retaining top talent.

2. Support hybrid and remote work.

Use technology to offer lawyers the autonomy to work from home some or all of the time. Secure cloud systems provide instant availability to matter files and firm resources. In the ABA’s 2022 survey of nearly 2,000 lawyers, most lawyers said remote or hybrid work had either no adverse impact or increased:

·        their ability to balance work and family (87%), 

·        their ability to deal with biases at work (91%), and 

·        the quality of their mental health (84%).

Lawyers increasingly rely on user-friendly communication and collaboration tools to support remote work functions that ease stress. For example, legal professionals conducted 21% of their communications on tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Skype for Business rather than email in 2022 (up from 18% in 2021).

3. Help lawyers reach their full potential. 

Business intelligence and financial analytics tools can measure lawyer performance KPIs such as average bill and work rates, tasks performed, and originating revenue. 

Identify underperformers and provide targeted training to address skills gaps. Knowing the specific issues to address can help match struggling lawyers with ideal mentors. At the same time, reward high performers and continuous learners to encourage a culture of learning and growth.

4. Pursue more profitable work.

The most profitable clients aren’t always those with the most matters or the highest revenue. Data analytics tools can provide a wealth of information based on collection rates, outstanding accounts receivables, fees per matter, and other metrics that reveal the true profitability rates of each client. 

Assess the profitability potential of practice areas and clientele to guide growth decisions. With this knowledge, lawyers can target the most lucrative clients and matter types to pursue, ultimately helping them achieve billable goals more easily. 

5. Spend more time practicing law. 

Empowered by technology, lawyers can now be more productive than ever. Help lawyers do the work they want to do rather than waste time on archaic, manual tasks that cause delays and lead to stress. Let automated tools take care of basic and administrative tasks. Give lawyers more time to investigate cases, formulate theories, test arguments, find new clients, and perform other high-value work.

Author: Bill Tilley, Practi Pulse TM. Read on LinkedIn.