Fee Earner Burnout
The majority of working sectors acknowledge that their employees are their most valuable asset. However, for a law firm this claim is probably even more significant. Law firms are of course selling legal expertise in exchange for fee earner time.
As a result, there is constant pressure to maximise fee earning time. A fee earner with a billable target of 1,400 hours per year is considered modest by the profession’s normal standards, but it equates to keeping up around 6 hours of chargeable time every working day. A tall order for the employees behind on their numbers.
Mental health has been crucial to maintain for many throughout the pandemic, not just Lawyers, for all sorts of reasons. Although for decades the workplace has taken physical health and safety seriously, it is only in recent years that psychological safety in the workplace has started to become a far higher priority.
How Are the Lawyer Burnout Statistics Stacking Up?
In a recent report by the mental wellbeing charity for the legal community that has been supporting the profession for 25 years, evidence is provided that suggests legal professionals are at high risk of burnout. A significant 69% of those surveyed (1,700 people currently working in the profession) have experienced Solicitor mental health problems in the 12 months preceding the survey.
Leaders at some of the most established law firms are increasingly having to ask themselves – what are the working conditions of a Lawyer in my firm? Why do Lawyers work so much in my Practice? Do we have a problem with overworked Lawyers in this organisation? Of course, just as with physical health and safety, there is an educational component law firms must carry out in terms of sharing knowledge with staff on how to keep themselves mentally healthy. There is a piece of work to be done to increase awareness and equip managers with the tools necessary so they can confidently support workers who are struggling. There is also a duty of care for law firm line managers in terms of signposting when it is clear a mental health professional needs to be called upon. This is all part of a law firm’s developing wellbeing strategy.
How Can Technology Help Law Firms Fee Earner Burn Out?
Technology has a key contribution to make. Software that enables legal workflow automation gives Lawyers the freedom to handle more of the high-value tasks they are trained to do and make their lives easier. Case Management Workflows are designed to automate much of the mundane and menial work that previously filled up Lawyers’ days. The profession’s openness to newer technologies such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning is increasing too. Which will take automation to a whole new level.
In conclusion, the focus, although steady, is beginning to shift towards a balance of physical and mental well-being. With more and more legal professionals having the confidence to speak up about their struggles, allowing the firms they work for to take steps to better their employees mental health.
Alex-Jay Blackledge-Murphy is a Legal Recruitment Consultant here at Interlink Talent Solutions who focuses on achieving the professional goals and ambitions of Qualified Lawyers in the North of England. If you are looking to progress your career, contact Alex-Jay on firstname.lastname@example.org