Our CEO Jake Heller recently hosted an event designed for employment law training and continuing education to find out the top tips for employment lawyers who want to increase efficiency in their practice.
Efficiency is especially important in employment law today. We recently surveyed in-house counsel about their expectations for efficiency, and 50% of them told us that efficiency is even more important than a year ago. (Click here to read the results of the survey.)
Attorney Steven Hart, a shareholder at Ogletree Deakins, agrees: “Our clients have always needed and wanted efficiency. But at the same time, they have to have first-class client service. So the challenge for us as outside counsel is to provide the best representation we can, while at the same time being cognizant of the pressures that our clients are facing,” Stephen said. “It’s more important than ever before because frankly if we can’t provide that service as outside counsel in our particular firm, the clients will find someone who can.”
Knowing how important efficiency is to their practice, what are the steps every employment law attorney should take? In our recent free employment law webinar, Casetext CEO Jake Heller decided the best way to find out was to ask an employment lawyer — Stephen Hart, a shareholder at Ogletree Deakins — as well as an in-house attorney, Melissa Sladden of Chevron. Below are Stephen and Melissa’s top tips to increase efficiency, plus the mistakes attorneys in labor and employment law should avoid.
Tips for employment law attorneys:
1. Don’t be afraid of technology.
Melissa’s #1 tip for attorneys is: “Know what tools exist, know how to use them, and know when they’re appropriate for your case — whether it’s A.I., a research tool like Casetext, or Microsoft Teams.”
2. Share knowledge with your colleagues — especially knowledge about your client.
Be sure to share information with colleagues so that you aren’t reinventing the wheel. One place you might find information about your client is in your firm’s DMS. As Stephen points out, if you can find something your partner wrote for that client, you should use that as a starting point. You’ll save time you would otherwise spend on revisions and make the partner and the client happy.
3. Make sure you’re aware of your firm’s resources.
Your firm may already have many of the tools, technology, and information that can help you be more efficient. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your firm’s resources so you know what’s available to you.
Mistakes to avoid:
1.Using billing codes clients don’t want to see.
In addition to knowing what types of work your clients don’t want to see on their bill — like research time and internal meetings — Melissa recommends avoiding non-specific billing codes that can make it more difficult for the client to find ways to be helpful and introduce efficiencies.
2. Not knowing enough about your client.
Although you might be looking for opportunities to save time, don’t cut out time spent getting to know your client. Do some online research and check out their website, or even schedule a day to go visit them. This is especially important in employment cases, Melissa points out, where you may learn a lot about your client’s office culture and processes by seeing them firsthand.
3. Sacrificing quality for efficiency.
As Stephen says, “At the end of the day, quality is job one. We have to be efficient, but first-class client service is table stakes.” In practice, that means taking the time to check on the things that can make a difference — for instance, you may be able to use a template to save time, but be sure to check the citations in that template to make sure they are still good law.
For more of Stephen and Melissa’s tips for efficiency in employment law, access the webinar on-demand for employment lawyers.