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Challenge number one – workload and time pressure?

A press release, dated March 14, 2008, for two groups, the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association (ACLA) and Corporate Lawyers Association of New Zealand (CLANZ), covers their Legal Department Benchmarking Report 2008. The release contains a statement about the top issue facing legal department leaders. “Workload/time pressure is the number one issue.” The claim set me to ruminating.

The quote conflates two notions. “Workload” could be sheer volume, a consistent high level of work to be done but none of it exigent. “Time pressure” could be manageable amounts of work, but chronic crises and last-minute pressures. The first is amount; the second is urgency and the two combined leave the analyst confounded.

It is not my consistent impression that inside counsel face epidemics of being rushed (“time pressure”) nor that they are typically overburdened with demands on them (“workload”). So, I ruminated on.

A perpetually overloaded inbox is a strain to the degree you cannot hire outside counsel to shoulder some of the burden.

Workload becomes a strain if you are unable to set priorities on the work that is coming in (See my post of March 10, 2005: methods to set priorities.).

It’s more of a strain if you don’t have precedent files, guidelines, customary clauses, and other knowledge tools.

It’s likely a strain if clients have no willingness and ability to handle some simpler legal issues and tasks themselves (See my post of May 18, 2008: self-serve and references cited.).