Fee earners at legal firms are burning out and remote working could be the answer.
Fee earners at legal firms in the UK are burning out, with a study by YouGov suggesting that employee mental health and wellbeing could be the biggest issue currently facing the legal sector. In fact, of those feeling burnt out in the legal industry, fewer than a quarter of those individuals feel supported by their employer.
What’s more, there is a well-reported skills shortage in the industry. Whilst there’s a myriad of reasons, the biggest cause appears to be soaring demand at the same time as rising numbers leave the profession. This is coupled with a struggling national labour market, influenced at least in part by Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nonetheless, whilst this might understandably cause concern amongst law firms, and in particular those without the resources of larger national or London-based organisations, it appears that remote working might be able to ease some of the pressure facing the legal sector.
A survey by Thomson Reuters found that 86% of UK lawyers would like to change the way they work and on average they would like to work remotely at least two days a week. What’s more, a study by the London School of Economics found that remote working could not only curb burnout but boost productivity too. This could certainly aid the legal industry.
What is required for remote working to be effective though? What do law firms need to do, or provide their staff with, to utilise remote working as a tool against fee earner burnout? Below are three things law firms will want to consider.
IT systems that can be used anywhere.
Whether making use of cloud technology or via a secure and reliable VPN, fee earners need to be able to use their tech wherever they are. What’s more, it needs to operate exactly as it would should they be in the office. It isn’t enough to simply provide access.
This means ensuring that the underlying IT infrastructure is up-to-date and where possible cloud software is used. As discussed in Lawyer Monthly, law firms must adopt a work from anywhere approach, and this begins with the foundations of your IT.
Getting your IT infrastructure right, and managed well, will allow your law firm to put in place everything that’s required for your employees to work remotely.
A leased line internet connection.
To get the most out of modern IT infrastructure and in particular cloud technology, law firms must invest in business-grade internet connections, if they haven’t done so already.
Unlike other connections, such as your traditional home broadband, one prominent feature of leased lines is symmetrical upload and download speeds. Good upload performance is required for services such as cloud services. In the real world, this could be the performance of your document storage or telephony system, both vitally important for lawyers accessing internal networks remotely.
Don’t think that because your staff are remote, the internet connection at the core of your IT network in the office doesn’t require attention. Conversely, it makes it more important. For more information on leased lines, you may wish to read this blog about the differences between leased lines and broadband as the context makes them easier to understand.
A unified comms platform that keeps fee earners connected internally and externally.
When working remotely communication becomes arguably more important for a law firm, especially given individuals can’t speak to one another face to face. Therefore, adopting a platform that combines internal and external communications is vital to everything running smoothly.
Platforms such as Microsoft Teams can combine multiple forms of communication such as phone calls, emails, and instant messaging, all in one place and make it easy to switch between different methods based on what’s required.
Alternatively, a VoIP telephony system (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a good way to ensure your clients can still communicate with fee earners, and vice versa, no matter where somebody is based. VoIP is a flexible, scalable and reliable telephony service that can be used anywhere. In a nutshell, it uses your internet connection as opposed to traditional copper telephone lines.
If you run or work for a law firm and would like to explore how remote working could help your organisation, we can help. We provide free consultations and can look at whether your business currently has the correct technology in place to provide effective remote working. For more information, arrange your consultation today.