Study shows that many legal professionals at mid and large sized law firms have “little visibility” into how their talents are being utilized.

Law firms have the potential to be more profitable and better meet their Diversity Equity and Inclusion goals. A recent survey by BigHand of legal professionals at mid- and large-size firms throughout North America and the United Kingdom found that about a third of respondents reported “little visibility” into the type of work delegated at their firms.

Additionally, the study finds about a third of respondents reported “little visibility” into how their staff is currently being used.

Dave Cook, Global Director for Resource Management at BigHand.

When it comes to resource management, though, what firms don’t know can hurt them, says Dave Cook, Global Director for Resource Management at BigHand.

“Salaries have all shot up,” says Cook. “There are substantial cost pressures on these firms in terms of how they’re delivering their matters. Making sure that work is allocated to the right individuals from a cost perspective is becoming more important.”

But many firms are missing this connection between data and their bottom lines. Nearly half of respondents (47 percent in North America, 43 percent in the U.K.) reported “little” resource allocation focused on matter profitability. More than a third (37 percent North America, 38 percent U.K.) believe their firms’ partners spend too much of their otherwise billable time on resource management. This points out the obvious: Lost billable hours is lost revenue.

Using resource management to drive DEI initiatives

This disconnect seems most pronounced when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts.

Half of all firms lack complete data on matter resourcing based on DEI considerations. Most (69 percent North America, 52 percent U.K.) report experiencing “increasing client pressure to resource matters with diversity in mind” over the prior 12 months. Despite this pressure, only about a quarter of firms consider DEI a top-three consideration when staffing matters.

“That was what surprised me most in the survey – that firms aren’t linking all of this together,” says Cook.

Cook explains that, even though law firms’ hiring and retention strategies are already connected to DEI, without investments in dedicated resource management staffing and tools, they are missing out on holistically integrating DEI. The talent problem goes beyond DEI; according to Cook, resource allocation is fundamentally tied to hiring and retaining top talent.

“For junior lawyers, in particular, it’s about, when I’m coming into the firm, how are they going to support me and ensure I’m getting work that’s valuable and a balanced workload?” says Cook. “Also, are there opportunities for me to progress and develop my career within that firm?”

In this way, investing in resource management solutions and hiring dedicated resource managers solves more than cost tracking and risk management. These investments represent an opportunity for firms to win the talent wars and win new business.

A tool that allows firms to identify resources, forecast utilization, manage workloads and add structure to career development for lawyers is essential. In this case, BigHand delivers real-time visibility of lawyer availability, improved profitability on matters and supports DEI goals for equitable allocation of work.

“Firms that can say that they’ve got a resource management process and product in place are being seen as preferred choices for clients,” says Cook. “Clients want to know that when they’re giving a piece of work to the firm, they are going to deliver it with the right people with the right skills at the right level to ensure that costs are respected.”

To find out more or access the full BigHand report click here.

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