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New Year’s Eve has come and gone, but how about your New Year’s resolutions? If you resolved to reduce your overtime, how’s that playing out? Are you sticking to your guns? What about taking up your company’s work-life balance policies - have you done so, or are you still all talk and no play?

As you’re no doubt aware, changing the way you work is not easy - especially if those around you fall back into old habits, expecting you and your team to be at their legal beck and call. Nor does it help that, as natural problem solvers, lawyers are the go-to people for the business to chew over problems that are often not even legal in nature.

So, if you planned on starting the new decade with a clean slate, with new habits that support your wellbeing and that of your in-house legal team, here is the first of three practical strategies you can use to stay on track.

Strategy One: Find Ways to Optimise Your Legal Function

Optimising your team’s function could include introducing new technology, or outsourcing high-volume, low complexity work. It also includes finding the time to actually embrace innovative legal solutions. In the 2019 ACC Trends Survey, in-house counsel admitted that while they want to make greater use of technology, they didn’t have time to investigate it properly. It’s a Catch 22 - struggling to find time to identify solutions that will give you more time. But it’s worth the investment. The outcome will make your team more productive, allowing them to undertake work that makes better use of their experience, which in turn will make them feel valued.

Speaking at the ACC’s 25th In-House Legal National Conference in a panel session on ‘How to stop your lawyers burning out, tuning out and dropping out’, Canon’s Chief Legal Counsel David Field said that in-house teams need to think about how to solve optimisation. He gave the Hayne Royal Commission as an example of how better-led in-house teams managed the sheer volume of commission-related work: by rapidly pulling together an effective range of solutions using technology, legal process outsourcing (LPOs), offshore offices, and short term staff.

“Traditionally, lawyers have done everything that came their way, thrown themselves at large dark rooms with boxes full of documents,” he said. “We need to find new ways to do things, and that involves using technology differently and understanding the possibilities.” This means taking time to identify and break-down your work processes (for example, through a design jam) and exploring ways of replacing processes with more efficient work practices or systems.

Laini Bennett is Head of Content at LegalVision. She is responsible for LegalVision’s freely available database of articles and publications. LegalVision is a market disruptor in the commercial legal services industry and provides a range of legal solutions specifically directed at large corporates, fast-growing businesses and enterprise clients that have a higher volume of legal needs. The firm was named the 'Fastest Growing Law Firm in the Asia-Pacific' by the Financial Times.