For in-house legal professionals, summer holidays often mean working long hours with high stress levels whilst most of the team are out on leave. It doesn't need to be like that.
So, what can you do to get ahead of the impact summer holidays might have on your team? This article provides 5 tips to stop you hitting boiling point this summer.
1) Communicate with the rest of the business
Communicate upfront to let your stakeholders know who is around and what the cover plan is. It'll help manage expectations and remind them that support is still there - and hopefully prevent panic when their urgent request gets an out-of-office bounce back email. This could be a great business case for setting up Legal Front Door technology. It creates easier ways for triaging work to the legal team whilst giving your business clarity on who they can get legal support from, regardless of who is on leave. You don't have to invest in a big new piece of technology if it doesn't make sense to.
We're working with a number of in-house teams to develop bespoke triage platforms within their existing IT environments, making it more efficient and easier to manage internally.
2) Let your juniors shine
With the senior team away, it could be the perfect chance for the more junior team members to show you what they're made of. Giving your juniors the opportunity to step up could take some of the pressure off and keep things moving over the summer period.
Within a safe environment and with support available, you could let your juniors cover work they might not normally be involved with or let them lead on a matter where they'd typically take second chair. They might just build a case for taking on more work and sharing the load once everyone's back!
Reduced capacity in the legal team is a great opportunity for the business to make more decisions themselves, encouraging them to self-serve. If you already have a reasonable level of self-serve in the organisation, are here more areas you can relax for a short period to keep escalations down?
If you don't have self-serve, you could put a playbook in place that answers your frequently asked questions and keeps the business moving without your input. This can also fix some of those regular queries in the long-term.
4) Get ahead with your project timelines
Do you have chunky projects in the pipeline? Can they be paused until the autumn without impacting revenue-generating legal advice your business will need in that time? When you're preparing projects or roll outs, be mindful of the popular holiday periods and work around them by building gaps into your plans. Don't commit to delivering on big projects in peak summer periods. It may sound like summer will be quiet as your stakeholders will be on leave, but there is a high chance your team will be on leave too!
You can also look at your handover process. Can it be made easier for those who are picking things up when someone is away? You could look at standardising your team's holiday handovers. By creating a template for everyone to use, you'll be able to set clear expectations of what should be included.
5) Lean on your legal service provider
Would it help to have a legal expert on hand to help you with any urgencies? Do you need to take on a paralegal or lawyer to support the gaps in your team over the summer? Or do you have an unavoidable project to focus on over summer and need your BAU covered? There's support out there from your legal service providers to help keep things running smoothly over the summer.
We continue to work with lots of in-house teams giving them a helping hand through the summer holidays. From secondments to an all-inclusive Managed Team, our solutions come in all shapes and sizes.
For some, summer brings long days filled with iced drinks and ice cream, but it doesn't always work out like that for in-house legal teams. Long days, yes - but mostly spent battling legal urgencies with less resource. You can lessen the impact the season has on your team by making some small changes to your processes coupled with clear communication ot the business.
If you're in need of some extra help, get in touch with our team of support experts, we'd love to help.
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