How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Good Performer Who Is Overwhelmed and a Poor Performer?

It’s important to have a handle on the composition of paralegals’ caseloads. What types of cases (soft tissue/subjective injury, definitive injury, wrongful death, etc.) are included? Balance this information against your understanding of what time and effort goes into managing each type of case at your firm.

This differs for every firm – some firms have separate teams who handle specific tasks, such as medical records follow-up and referrals, while paralegals in other firms might perform these tasks. Understanding your firm’s expectations by case type will help you determine whether your paralegal has an unbalanced caseload and legitimate reason for being overwhelmed.

Your case management software should also be able to help you here. GrowPath has a gravity report which assigns an algorithmic value to each paralegal’s caseload. This report breaks down the types of cases, as well as the number of cases in specific stages, so that a manager can objectively compare caseloads of all paralegals at a glance and see who might be overwhelmed and who might have capacity.

What Stage of Work Are the Bulk of Your Paralegal’s Cases In?

If you have a paralegal who is underperforming, you can gain additional insight into possible reasons for this by looking at the work stages of the cases.

If paralegal A has the bulk of his cases in pre-demand, for example, and you have identified a dip in KPIs (he’s behind on client contacts or requests for outstanding records), this could be an indication that he has too many cases in that stage and that he’s having a hard time prioritizing. A manager should step in and provide guidance at this point.

If paralegal B has the bulk of her cases in post-demand, where the workload responsibilities have shifted to others and she, too, is behind on tasks, it’s possible she’s not capable of doing the job efficiently. Or you might uncover some process or operational issues – perhaps she is performing tasks that are not her responsibility – which might need to be addressed by a process change.

Law firm management thought leader Eric Sanchez discusses how a deeper dive into case status, balanced with a solid knowledge of the tasks involved in these stages, will give you a clearer picture of what might be causing a paralegal’s underperformance. Data is your friend here.

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