As demand for legal services grows, paralegals have an increasing amount of work on their plates.
Unfortunately, no one’s figured out how to cram more hours into the workweek.
To avoid burnout while accomplishing more, paralegals need to do everything they can to increase productivity and get rid of all the time-consuming busywork they have to manage.
Keep reading to learn more about how paralegal productivity is measured, the benefits of improved productivity for paralegals, and what paralegals can do to get more done each day at the office.
At the end of the day, there’s no shortage of metrics firms can use to assess paralegal productivity. Here are some of the most common metrics leading law firms track to measure staff productivity and its impact on the firm:
Number of billable hours: how many hours a law firm can bill a client for a paralegal’s service
Utilization rate: the number of billable hours divided by the paralegal’s workday (e.g., four billable hours in an eight-hour workday yields a 50 percent utilization rate)
Realization rate: the number of billable hours that have been invoiced compared to the number of billable hours the paralegal accrued
Collection rate: the number of billable hours paid divided by the number of billable hours invoiced
Revenue billed per month: the sum of all billable hours the paralegal is responsible for in one month
Again, these five metrics are only some of the ways to measure paralegal productivity. If there’s an overarching theme, though, it might be this: Paralegal productivity is measured by how much revenue they help their law firms generate and collect.
Now that you have a better idea of how paralegal productivity is gauged, let’s take a look at some of the specific benefits you can expect from increased productivity.
What exactly does increased productivity mean for paralegals? Let’s take a look.
When you can figure out how to trim the fat off your workday, you’re able to get more done—and, more specifically, more higher-value tasks done. Instead of spending time dealing with repetitive tasks, you can focus on serving clients and generating more billable hours.
At the same time, increasing paralegal productivity also frees you up to lend a helping hand to your colleagues. Not only does this build camaraderie across teams, but it also benefits you by demonstrating and increasing your value to the firm.
By increasing productivity, you can deliver more value to your firm and the clients you’re serving. As a result, bosses and clients are happier, and they’ll no doubt notice your role in the firm’s success.
Nobody starts a career as a paralegal expecting they’ll spend a ton of time on menial tasks such as searching for a process server in California on Google when they live in New York. By figuring out ways to eliminate repetitive tasks, you can find more meaning in your work and more easily reach your full potential.
Add it all up, if you’re a productive paralegal, you set yourself up for a much more lucrative career. Your job is more secure, you’re more likely to receive bonuses and salary bumps, and there’s a greater chance you’ll have more career opportunities as word gets around about your effectiveness.
At this point, you hopefully have a better idea of how paralegal productivity is measured, and you also know why increasing productivity is important. In the next section, we’ll examine the specific tactics you can employ to get more done at work.
Here are seven tactics productive paralegals use to do their best work every day.
Paralegals can’t get higher-value work done when they’re focusing on monotonous, laborious tasks day in and day out. For example, if you’re tasked with serving legal documents in a state across the country, you might often be dealing with the time-consuming task of hunting down a process server. Fingers crossed that research turns up a good candidate who’s reasonably priced, can get started on the serve right away, and will provide timely updates.
By outsourcing or even automating these kinds of tasks, paralegals can reclaim significant chunks of time, enabling them to productively work more billable hours each day. Proof, for example, helps paralegals find process servers in all 50 states in just a few simple steps. All of a sudden, serving legal documents takes considerably less time.
Paralegals don’t have to do everything on their own. One way to get more done is by building up a strong network of contacts or resources one can tap into on an as-needed basis.
For starters, you can search for other paralegals on platforms such as LinkedIn for networking purposes. You can also find trusted resources online that enable you to keep tabs on the latest industry developments. By doing so, you can leverage these resources when you’re in a pinch instead of spending even more time tracking down answers.
Making smart investments in technology can have a huge impact on productivity. The right tools can help you organize your work, keep projects on track, find information faster, and collaborate more efficiently with clients and coworkers alike.
Some tools to consider include LastPass for password management, Trello for project management, Clio for practice management, and Zapier for workflow automation.
Humans are visual creatures; we respond better to images than written or spoken words.
One way you can potentially get more done is by using the power of visualization to your advantage. For example, you can start tracking numbers (e.g., billable hours) in a graph format to chart progress and inspire you to do more. You can also pick up a pen and a pad and write down your to-do list, getting a sense of accomplishment each time you check something off.
Inch by inch is a cinch, as they say. If you’ve got a massive project on your plate, you might find it easier to tackle by “dissecting” the project into smaller tasks and then checking each one off one by one. For example, if you’re helping an attorney prepare for a case and you need to conduct interviews, gather documents, and conduct research, break your responsibilities into those three parts. From there, break things down even further; if you’re interviewing eight different people, that’s eight subtasks. All of a sudden, a gargantuan assignment doesn’t seem so big after all.
Even if you’re the type of paralegal who burns the candle at both ends, there are still only 24 hours in a day. That being the case, you need to make sure you make the most of each hour when you’re at your desk.
Using productivity tools, legal tech solutions designed to automate repetitive work, and to-do lists can help you get more control over your day. If you’re the type of person who’s easily distracted online, consider a tool such as RescueTime that’s designed to help you focus more on your work.
Last but not least, you won’t be productive when you’re under the weather or are not taking good care of yourself. At the end of the day, productivity starts with your own health. Be sure to take breaks, sleep well, exercise, and eat healthy meals. When you take care of yourself, you’ll be in a better mood, have more energy, handle stressful situations better and overall, be able to accomplish more because of it.
If you’re looking to increase your staff’s productivity—or you’re a paralegal trying to figure out how to get more done—Proof can help.
Learn more about the easiest way to take the laborious task of process serving off your team’s plate, check us out.