Like many businesses, it’s taken Post Partner a little while (since 2019 in fact!) to work out exactly what it is we exist to do…our “Massive Transformational Purpose” to use some fashionable jargon.

Ok, we help improve efficiency, reduce security risks, increase profitability etc…but what’s the bigger picture?

It was in looking at ‘digital transformation’ more generally that it eventually became clear.

We protect fee earners from admin in a digital world!

The light bulb moment

Our products and services don’t JUST save time; they are specifically tailored to route admin tasks away from lawyers to either administrators, or, increasingly, to automation tools, to enable fee earners to concentrate on legal work.

It seems to us that whilst many ‘digital transformations’ doubtlessly save time, improve security, reduce errors, are generally great etc. they often end up channelling admin tasks directly to fee earners, whereas previously those tasks would have been undertaken by administrators.

A great example

Filing e-mails is a prime example of this. The filing of post, a.k.a. ‘the mail’, has traditionally been an administrative task; and a pretty lowly one at that. The advent of e-mail and case management systems however has completely reversed this. Lawyers, not administrators are spending several hours a week (sometimes a day!) filing emails. The tail appears to be (quite vigorously) wagging the dog!

The impact for firms

As a result, we are seeing a number of negative consequences, including

  • Skilled administrators being underutilised,
  • Increasing levels of fee-earner burnout
  • Admin being done poorly – Newsflash – lawyers are not generally very good at admin!

Our short term plan

In the coming months we will be challenging law firms and lawyers themselves to consider, on a variety of simple statements, such as “fee earners in our firm don’t file the emails”, just how admin heavy their lives really are. An admin health check if you like.

Perhaps an interesting thought experiment is to cast our minds back to the 1990’s. The music was evidently better 😊, and, according to the majority of practitioners we’ve spoken to on the topic, so was the role of a fee earner!

Assuming it’s not just a matter of rose-tinted glasses, why on earth would that be? Technology has advanced enormously, more flexible working arrangements are generally available, and there is plenty of work (and therefore money) available for firms who have survived consolidation. It should be a great time to be, for example, a conveyancing solicitor, and yet we have a ‘burn-out pandemic’ on our hands and mass exodus from the sector, making recruitment and retention many firms No1 headache.

Reaction from the sector so far

As illuded to above, I attribute the change in fortunes, at least in part, to an unhelpful blurring of the lines between administrative and legal tasks. My comments along these lines, both on LinkedIn and in private conversations, have been met very positively and have been something of an eyeopener to some people. It can be easy to miss the forest for the trees. The only negative reaction (to my knowledge) was one person misinterpreting my comments as saying lawyers are more important than administrators. My point of course is that fee-earning and admin are both important, but they are different, and should be allocated accordingly.

Conclusion

At a time where burn-out is a pandemic in our industry and with recruitment & retention of the best talent being the No1 priority in forward thinking firms…Post Partner are proud (and pretty excited!) to be in the ‘fee earner protection game’.

Tom Bailey

Managing Director at Post Partner

About Cashroom

Cashroom provides expert outsourced accounting services for Law Firms including Legal Cashiering, Management Accounts and Payroll services. Our mission is to free lawyers from the complexities of legal accounting by supporting the industry with accurate management information and allowing lawyers to do what they do best – practice law.

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We’ve been with Cashroom for quite a few years now, and I would never go back. In any business, and particularly in times of uncertainty, it’s important to control your costs, and that’s exactly what you help me do.

Sharon Needle
Sharon Needle
Managing Partner, Needle Partners
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