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Three challenges of managing a remote or hybrid law firm, and what you can do about them

Noel Peel

Written by

Noel Peel


June 3, 2021

The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines is a light at the end of the tunnel for law firms that have been working remotely since the beginning of the pandemic. But despite the challenges of working remotely, firm owners may be thinking twice before making plans for employees to return to the office full time. After all – reduced office costs, hours saved commuting, and the comfort of working from home are all hard to give up.  

If you’re considering making remote work a permanent part of your law firm, it’s a good idea to examine any inefficiencies you may have potentially glossed over for being “only temporary.” Taking steps now to address these issues will ensure that your law firm stays on track for continued success.  

Time tracking and work/life balance

COVID-19 has blurred the lines between work and non-work life for many (if not most) remote employees. People have found themselves wearing the hat of caregiver, teacher, and employee all at the same time, and while productivity may be the same or even higher for remote workers, it’s important to recognize that your colleagues may require flexibility beyond the standard 9-5 workday even as the world shifts back to normalcy.  

Utilizing practice management software with automatic legal time tracking can help ensure that attorneys and staff are receiving credit for emails and tasks completed outside of the typical workday, and that you have clear and unbiased data regarding how much and what type of work your colleagues are completing every day.  

Lack of oversight

Junior (and even some veteran) staff may struggle with a lack of supervision and guidance while working remotely. Manage those challenges with legal software that includes tasks and workflows to take the uncertainty out of what needs to be done next, and by setting clear expectations and performance metrics. Smokeball’s law firm insights offers reports tracking statistics like profitability by fee earner and time spent on tasks – this data is invaluable when it comes to setting and measuring performance.  

Communication and collaboration challenges

Effective communication is key when working remotelyUsing a cloud-based practice management system like Smokeball means that matters are updated in real time as emails, documents, and other case updates are added to the software. This saves time spent emailing or calling back and forth to check whether a task has been completed.  

Also consider implementing a secure messaging system like Communicate to facilitate conversations throughout the workday. This legal app allows you and your staff to send messages and share files both internally and externally, cutting down on endless email chains.  

The past 12 months have shown us that transitioning a law firm to work remotely full- or part-time is absolutely possibleThe right legal software can make all the difference for firms looking to increase their profitability and productivity while working from anywhere. To learn more about how Smokeball can help your law firm, contact us today 

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