Salaries Versus Burnout: Are We Missing The Mark?

By:
Sam Emery, Product Marketing Manager
Jul 20, 2021

Notoriously known to be paid well, lawyers arguably earn every cent of their paycheck considering all of the things a modern lawyer must juggle. Their day-to-day requires balancing being a legal expert, business development professional, customer service support rep, and compliance authority. Whether working at a Firm or for a corporate legal department, lawyers play a vital role in day-to-day operations of any organization. This is why many firms are making moves to boost salaries and provide new bonus structures as an incentive. Money talks, after all, and there is no doubt that these pay increases are exciting for those receiving them.

So, if money talks, why are so many lawyers quitting the profession?

Is it the constant, seemingly insurmountable pressure? Lack of control? Feeling inadequate? Endless hours spent on administrative work instead of meaningful legal work? The endless paperwork? Or perhaps, not knowing what you were getting in to?

According to a growing collection of opinion articles from experts and lawyers themselves, it’s a combination of all the above and then some.

Add to that already chaotic mixture a pandemic where lawyer demands have been amplified, lines between work and home have been blurred, and even longer hours (if that was possible) are now expected – and it’s safe to say that mental health in the legal industry has taken an sharp dive in the last 18 months.

Legal professionals are driven and capable individuals, but regardless of the size of their paycheck, the extreme demands have simply become too much to bear, and professionals are shifting their careers to find better balance.

How can firms stop the bleeding and better equip highly educated and skilled professionals to work more productively and—perhaps more importantly—sanely?

The recent survey from Wolters Kluwer provides some insight. According to their findings, 84% of respondents expect that greater use of technology will improve productivity. This presents a possible solution to not only today’s challenges of tedious, time-consuming tasks that drain lawyer’s time and increase their stress; but also to the looming challenge of increasing volume and complexity of work that 73% of respondents are expecting the legal industry will have to address.

It might seem like a simple solution for directly solving the overwhelming burnout that lawyers today are facing: utilize and invest in technology that enhances efficiency, collaboration, and relieves your lawyers of some of their many hats.

Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly), this is exactly opposite of what is actually happening.

The survey also discovered that only 33% of lawyers believe their organization is “very well prepared” to address technology. Of the reasons listed for why firms are so hesitant to change, 47% of respondents cited organizational issues such as lack of strategy and a culture that is resistant to change; and 40% cited lack of technical knowledge. It’s safe to say that far too many lawyers feel that their firm is not ready to change with the technology available.

Therefore, the disconnect remains and despite salary increases and bonuses, the root cause of why lawyers are leaving the industry as a whole has yet to be solved.

While most professionals are eager to take home a larger paycheck, the data suggests that Firms can save money in the long term by lowering employee turnover and investing in the right technology needed to save their lawyer’s sanity and increase efficiencies.

If the goal is to save time and reduce frustration, there is a multitude of technologies available. To name just a few:

  • Task Automation that can completely automate processes that would otherwise require hours of mindless work. These could include client intake, document creation, and manual processes.
  • Email Management can help to correctly file the dozens, if not hundreds of emails, lawyers receive every day that would otherwise drain their time. Having a system in place that streamlines the process means more time and flexibility lawyers have to practice law and serve clients.
  • Document management can either make organizing, securing, and collaborating on countless documents easy and secure or time consuming and risky depending on the system in place. A document management system (DMS) makes it easy to store, organize, and work on documents while saving time and money all while eliminating frustrating, repetitive tasks.

It is no secret that lawyers are one of the most at-risk professionals for mental health crisis. Crisis brought on by increasingly difficult standards, competition, stress, and lack of time to spend on the things that truly inspire them. Lawyers need balance in their lives. And they’re leaving the industry in droves to get it.

The time is now. The legal industry must adjust and adapt the right technologies, or risk losing their most important asset: the lawyers. And with a plethora of technology options available to them to give their lawyers time back and relive the stress of burdensome tasks, Firms can address these challenges directly without sacrificing brilliant legal minds.