5 Project Management Tips to Meet Rising Caseloads and Boost Productivity

Time is money, as we all are well aware in a post-recession business environment. This is especially true in the legal field where billable hours requirements remain the norm and productivity and efficiency are critical to a legal team's success. In fact, a recent Robert Half Legal survey points to greater workloads as one of the greatest business challenges facing legal departments in 2013, second only to compliance or regulatory issues and controlling outside counsel costs.

Whether you work in-house or for a law firm, at some point, you've probably wondered how your legal team could work more effectively. If rising caseloads are keeping you awake at night, consider implementing the following five tips to help maximize your team's productivity: 

  1. Promote time management. Legal teams are tasked with managing multiple projects on a daily basis. But as the pace of business accelerates, effective time management and organizational skills become even more critical. Consider sending new associates and staff members to time management seminars or ask a project manager to coordinate an internal training session. Team members should receive instructions on everything from creating manageable project lists and establishing goals to delegating administrative tasks and managing electronic files.
  2. Be realistic about existing resources. What are your organization’s limitations in terms of time, knowledge and experience? Sometimes we have to be realistic and recognize that there just isn’t enough in-house staff or expertise available to conduct an e-discovery project or meet a major deadline. You can often tame workloads, save costs and free up in-house teams by turning to interim professionals and legal service providers that can work with internal teams and outside counsel on large-scale litigation and e-discovery matters.
  3. Maximize legal technologies. While technology has helped create the expectation that attorneys will be responsive to clients 24/7, it's also provided us with unprecedented flexibility and ease in managing our workloads. In fact, lawyers we recently interviewed cited knowledge-sharing platforms, such as e-filing systems, meeting or audio-conferencing tools, document storage sites, collaborative or information-sharing sites and client portals or extranets among the top tools they viewed as essential to productivity. 
  4. Stay informed. You probably don't have time in your day to stay current with the latest tech tools so consider assigning someone within your group to stay informed about current and emerging technologies, especially those products that can enhance time management and productivity. In addition, consider asking internal or external clients what would help them the most and then allow that information to drive technology acquisitions.
  5. Remember that the basics still matter. Even with the help of today’s technologies, legal professionals still have to remember to practice the basics when it comes to time management. Staying organized and on top of caseloads and projects and continually reviewing priorities are all key. As a legal manager, you play an important role in monitoring the workloads of your practice group and individual legal team members. Be proactive in helping staff find better ways to manage their time and boost productivity – intervening with solutions when necessary.

Learn more in Robert Half Legal’s complimentary Future Law Office report. If you have time management and productivity enhancing tips to share, please add a comment to this blog.