As you know all too well, the hallmark traits of a perfect paralegal are detail-oriented, organized, and efficient. On the days when your self-confidence is waning (we all have them), you may think that your semi-administrative role is designed only to serve and support. You may believe that you cannot play a significant role in your firm’s success on those down days because, well, you’re not a lawyer.
In every business, profits and profit margins are the key indicators of success. That’s what the equity partners on the top floor review. It’s not just how much they’re billing; it’s how much profit they’re generating.
Your Superpower as a Profit Generator
Profits don’t just come from more billing. They come from completing the work more efficiently.
Without even thinking about it, your efficiency superpower could help you identify the bottlenecks in your office without breaking a sweat.
You see the hours wasted by staffers every day:
- Doing the same redundant tasks over and over for different clients
- Chasing down partners for contract approvals
- Cutting and pasting edits into old documents
- Researching the same topics over and over
- Collecting timeslips for weekly or monthly billings
Because you are the efficiency expert, you intuitively know there’s a better way. And that other firms are already leaping into more efficient systems, which puts your firm at risk of falling behind.
Doing more of what you enjoy
If you’re like most paralegals, the joy comes in the research. The satisfaction comes when you uncover details that help settle cases in your firm’s favor. Finding contract mistakes and filing motions on time is great, but it doesn’t evoke monumental pride-filled moments of joy.
You Have Two Choices
Fellow paralegals and support staff may push back on approaching the topic of automation, thinking that they will lose their jobs. While some digital transformations result in a cutback of support staff, it is more about realigning responsibilities in many cases. In other words, by making redundant tasks more efficient, staff can spend time on other tasks to support the firm.
Many people are scared or uncomfortable learning a new system. They push back because they fear change and the unknown. Your firm’s senior partners may feel this way, to the long-term detriment of the firm.
But not you. You’re an efficiency expert. And efficiency means evolution. And efficiency means profitability. So you have two choices: keep doing things the way you’re doing them, or step up and rally for change. After all, you’re the expert. Because even if your firm doesn’t take action as quickly as you’d like, you will be noticed for taking the initiative and for being willing to adapt to future changes. Plus, if you decide to move on, you can take your transformation research with you.
“Efficiency is doing better what is already being done.” – Peter Drucker
Where to Start?
You will want to prepare your case as your law firm would. You can find more details here on what to look for in an automated solution for your law firm. We’ve also created a framework to follow in putting together your presentation.
Embrace the Journey
If your law firm operates like most, decisions about internal processes don’t happen quickly. First, the idea must be presented and discussed among the key partners. Naturally, since they’re lawyers at heart, there’s typically a fair amount of discussion and negotiation and a need for more details. So you may be called upon to fill the gaps. How much will it cost? How long will it take to deploy? How involved is the training? Your due diligence in anticipating their questions in advance could help tremendously. Remember, though, that digital transformation has repeatedly demonstrated that it leads to greater efficiency and profitability. Speak in their language, and you’ve got a real opportunity to be heard.
Most service businesses, like law firms, are client-first. At times this results in the delay of internal projects while unexpected client projects fill the hours. In other cases, firms only make investments at a specific time of year, depending on your firm’s fiscal calendar.
You’ll be Ready Before They’re Ready
Change rarely happens overnight. Evolution takes time. It will take patience and persistence to convince your firm to make the change. The good news is that you will be positioning yourself as a critical voice of change and a leader inside the firm.
Why Didn’t We Do This Sooner?
When your firm finally commits, and after smoothing out the bumps, you’ve got an opportunity to be regarded as a hero. Don’t be surprised to hear, “Why didn’t we do this sooner?”