October 27 by Jason Smith
For most law-firm attorneys—and many others—the billable hour is the primary unit of productivity. It’s the fuel for paychecks and promotions, and it drives the strategies that firms pursue with their clients. So naturally, lawyers must bill a substantial share of their hours worked. Right?
Yet a recent a recent survey of law professionals found that just 29% of the average legal workday is committed to billable hours—meaning that billable work isn’t even the largest use of attorneys’ time!
Outside of billable hours, attorneys spend 48% of their time on administrative tasks, 33% on business development and 16% on licensing and continuing education (numbers add up to less than 100% due to rounding). Billable work takes up less time than administration, which includes billing and collections, office tasks and configuring technology like Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) systems.
While this survey was focused on law firm lawyers and the impact on law firm revenue, it easily translates into corporate legal departments as a yardstick of efficiency.
If lawyers are only spending 2.3 hours per day on billable work (or, in corporate law department terms, substantive strategic legal work) then what is happening during the other 5.7 hours?
The Myth of an 8-Hour Work Day
According to the survey, these lawyers devote almost half of their day to administrative tasks. In our world of contract lifecycle management, these statistics bolster the pain points we often see with companies that have outdated processes and systems in place. Much of the day consists of fielding frequently asked questions, chasing down approvals and signatures, searching for key contract dates or the documents themselves and reviewing the same clause that’s being redlined for the hundredth time.
This constant barrage of interruptions means lawyers aren’t be as productive as they could be. In fact, the survey estimates that 25 percent of legal professionals are interrupted more than 10 times a day.
3 Ways Contract Management Automation Saves Time
This is where an intelligent contract lifecycle management system can reduce those interruptions significantly and allow lawyers to get back to, well, lawyering.
1) Start with simply having a central repository for all of the company’s contracts. This greatly reduces the effort to track down important documents. In addition, having full-text searchable documents eliminates the need to create complex taxonomies or naming conventions. With the ability to search every word of every document instantly, the same document can be quickly located by different people using different search criteria.
2) Take it a step further with alerts, notifications and the ability to generate regular, automated reports and the documents (or at least the links to those records) can come to the user before the user knows they even need them. Novel interaction methods such as full mobile capabilities and a virtual assistant make accessing the right document ridiculously easy
3) Layer on top of this intelligent central repository the ability to automate your contract playbooks and self-service contract management becomes possible. Many large companies have seen a significant reduction in their contracting time by simply automating their NDA process so non-lawyers can request, review and sign NDAs without involving Legal at all.
Removing the lawyers from day-to-day tactical contracting tasks frees them to focus on more complex and strategic deals—without interruption. Unchain lawyers from the burden of repetitive, low-value and administrative tasks. Free the lawyers!