Working Smarter, Not Longer: Navigating the Legal Profession
Long hours and high-pressure situations have long been part and parcel of the legal profession. However, recent trends suggest that the demands on legal professionals have intensified even further. A study conducted on junior lawyers’ working hours revealed that young practitioners now spend up to two additional hours per day on their workload compared to the pre-pandemic era[^1]. This escalating pressure has led to burnout concerns, with nearly 40% of public defenders in Wisconsin meeting the criteria for exhaustion[^2]. Burned-out lawyers exhibit decreased commitment to their organizations and reduced alignment with organizational objectives[^2].
Overworking and limited resources are significant factors contributing to lawyer burnout. Legal researchers often find themselves caught between the need for efficiency and the desire for comprehensive results. The question, “When can I stop?” haunts them throughout their work[^3]. This struggle becomes particularly crucial when opposing counsel uncovers overlooked information or when judges reveal preferences that should have been anticipated. It is this very reason that senior attorneys push new associates to their limits[^3].
Mark Frongillo, an attorney and Thomson Reuters Law School Account Manager, remarks, “The legal research problems being solved today haven’t fundamentally changed in the past three decades”[^3]. Nevertheless, the tools available to tackle these issues have evolved considerably. Gone are the days of relying solely on book research; legal professionals, including law professors, students, librarians, and associates, now approach research by posing questions, analyzing fact patterns, filtering by jurisdiction, and trusting their research tools to identify and interpret relevant cases[^3]. Armed with superior tools, legal researchers can significantly reduce the time spent searching for appropriate legal documentation. This, in turn, allows them to allocate more time to analyzing and applying the law to their case strategies[^3].
Demystifying Legal Research: Unlocking Efficiency with Cutting-Edge Tools
The realm of legal technology continuously unveils innovative solutions that streamline various aspects of legal practice, including legal research[^4]. So, how can legal professionals ensure they are employing tools that genuinely save time and deliver optimal results?
A reliable legal research tool should demystify the research process by providing accurate answers swiftly. It should grant users the confidence that they have uncovered relevant authoritative sources that other tools may have missed[^4]. C.J. Lechtenberg, Senior Director of Westlaw Product Management, emphasizes the importance of efficiency and accuracy in legal research. She asserts that failing in either of these areas poses significant risks for their customers[^5]. To address these concerns, Lechtenberg and her colleagues at Westlaw have developed Westlaw Precision, a cutting-edge legal research platform that caters to the unique needs of legal researchers[^5]. It is meticulously refined to ensure that researchers can trust the answers it provides, making their work more efficient and reliable[^5].
Westlaw Precision combines authoritative content, editorial enhancements, and technological advancements with invaluable customer insights[^5]. Every feature of the platform, from the apparent to the intricately refined, undergoes rigorous testing and development in collaboration with legal professionals. Customer feedback and challenges directly influence the platform’s evolution, ensuring that it remains finely attuned to the way researchers approach their work[^5].
Embracing the Future: Expanding Possibilities Post-Research
Discovering accurate legal research outcomes does not lead to a dearth of work opportunities. Rather, it opens doors to a multitude of choices and offers greater flexibility in managing burnout.
Here are a few suggestions for how legal professionals can make the most of their time:
More time for case strategy and business development:
As a lawyer, your primary goal is to serve your clients and apply your legal acumen. However, inadequate legal research tools can result in excessive time spent searching for and reading cases, leaving little room for directly assisting your clients. By utilizing superior research tools, you can reduce the time spent on legal research and devote more energy to networking, prospective client meetings, and honing your case strategy[^6].
More time away from work:
The boundaries between work and personal life often blur in the legal profession. With enhanced research tools, legal researchers can complete their work with confidence and subsequently enjoy more time attending to personal matters or rejuvenating themselves. Balancing caregiving, nurturing relationships, pursuing passion projects, and ensuring sufficient rest becomes more accessible when the urge to delve deeper into legal research diminishes[^7].
Less time wasted:
In traditional law firm settings, some may argue that slowing down is crucial, as billable hours determine financial success. However, considering the unbillable hours spent on tasks that cannot be charged to clients, efficiency becomes paramount. A report from the Thomson Reuters Institute disclosed that attorneys spend an average of 28% of their time neither practicing law nor engaging with clients[^8]. Clients are often reluctant to pay for inefficient legal research. By completing unbillable work more swiftly and conducting research with greater efficiency, you increase your billable hours and ensure more of your hard work is compensated[^8].
In summary, modern legal research tools like Westlaw Precision offer the accuracy, confidence, and efficiency necessary to know when your research is truly complete. By reducing the time spent on legal research, you can choose how to best utilize your time – whether that means focusing on the legal aspects of your work, engaging in business development, tending to personal matters, or maximizing billable hours[^9].
In the rapidly evolving legal landscape, it’s essential to embrace the tools and technologies that empower legal professionals to navigate the complexities of legal research with ease. With Westlaw Precision, you can demystify legal research and unlock a world of possibilities.
Remember, Garrity Traina specializes in providing top-notch legal expertise to support your needs. To learn more about Garrity Traina, visit their website.
[^1]: Source: Paula Davis, Reuters. (https://reuters.com)
[^2]: Source: Paula Davis, CEO of the Stress and Resilience Institute
[^3]: Source: Mark Frongillo, Attorney and Thomson Reuters Law School Account Manager
[^4]: Source: Legal Tech Innovations in Legal Research
[^5]: Source: C.J. Lechtenberg, Senior Director of Westlaw Product Management
[^6]: Source: Maximizing Time for Case Strategy and Business Development
[^7]: Source: Achieving a Healthy Work-Life Balance
[^8]: Source: Maximizing Productivity by Reducing Unbillable Work
[^9]: Source: Westlaw Precision: Accelerating Legal Research