(Missed Part 2 of this series? Read it here: So Why Are Lawyers Spending So Much Time On Administrative Tasks?)
And Finally: Volume
I think the last reason attorneys are spending so much time doing administrative tasks is the increase in information we have all been subjected to as the world has gone digital.
According to Surprising Statistics About Lawyer Information Overload:
By the end 2015, attorneys on average were creating or receiving more than 70 documents every day (and for some, many more). That includes emails, email attachments, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PDFs, client records, opposing
counsel records, etc. That’s more than 26,000 documents a year!
But, that’s not all. Just two years ago, an average lawyer managed fewer than 18,000 documents annually. That’s a 50% growth rate just between 2013 and 2015. Not surprisingly, email communication and email habits are partly responsible for this growth.
Left without administrative staff for the filing and handling of much of the incoming, attorneys are physically handling more–more files, more papers, more data and more emails. Each piece of paper, electronic file and email requires time and focus to process–most of it not billable.
On a side note, when dictation was removed as a standard operating procedure, so too went the option for higher value staff to easily and efficiently delegate tasks, follow ups, reminders, calendar entries, instructions…pretty much anything a “boss” could tell an “assistant” to do was delegated via voice through dictation.
Removing dictation as the start of a firm’s workflow meant attorneys had no other option but to spend far more time entering new matter information or creating properly formatted documents than simply asking someone familiar with the tech and tools do to it, while at the same time getting it OFF of their to-do list entirely–which is about as efficient as one can get!
Now I certainly agree that attorneys should be competent in the completion of common office tasks and that it is good that an attorney have the ability to do any and all job which needs to be done in an office. But that does not mean they should be charged with doing it all, all of the time.
Certainly the data illustrates what I have long said – attorneys spend FAR TOO MUCH TIME doing the administrative work needed to run their practices.
And it’s not because they can’t type.
And it’s not because they can’t manipulate or are not proficient with technology.
It’s because there is far too much administrative work to do in ANY business, and the more successful you become, the more administrative work there is.
For attorneys who want to learn more about the trap of working in their business instead of on it, read The E-myth Revisited (no need to get the “attorney” version)…and to learn how best to delegate, I recommend a very oldie: The One Minute Manager.
When you include delegation into your workday, you will finally find a way to balance all that has to be done at work.
Just because you can type, doesn’t mean you should.
Andrea Cannavina (@AndreaCan) helps law firms organize, automate and implement business process improvements to create efficient workflows and happier staff.