One way to cope with more work despite having the same number or fewer staff is to take more legal risks. The contract that you only review for key elements harbors more legal risks than the completely-reviewed one. The contracts below a certain amount that you don’t even look at could expose your client to a risk later, but the time invested now to reduce that risk is not worth it.
Actually, we tend to speak as if we can grab, measure out, and fence in legal risk, but we can’t. Risks in the law are contingent and not quantifiable (See my posts of Nov. 15, 2005 and references cited which grapple with definitions of “legal risk”; Jan. 10, 2006 on ERM; Jan. 13, 2006 on uncertainty vs. risk; and March 1, 2007 on compartmentalization and legal risk.).
Lawyers may tend to be risk averse (See my posts of April 12, 2006 on risk aversion and personality styles; and Oct. 18, 2005 generally on lawyer on risk aversion.), but under pressure to accomplish more, some tradeoffs between risk minimization and necessary output become acceptable. Take smarter risks, explain that position to clients, and be prepared to take some arrows.