Government attorneys face daunting workloads, tight budgets and pressure to keep current on increasingly complex laws and regulations at a time when a generation of institutional knowledge is leaving as Baby Boomer-era employees retire. That’s according to a Thomson Reuters survey across federal, state and city/county levels with 238 government attorneys responding.

“Government attorneys face unique challenges,” said Steve Rubley, managing director of the Government segment for Thomson Reuters. “While attorneys in private practice can defer work outside of their practice area and corporate counsel can send work to firms, government lawyers generally can’t turn down work.”

Seventy-six percent of government attorneys expect their workload to increase in the next few years. Compared with their private-practice counterparts, they are typically required to cover a much broader range of legal disciplines. As a “jack of all trades,” the typical government attorney may be responsible for everything from drafting new laws on emerging issues, such as data privacy and cybersecurity, to adjudicating civil complaints and enforcing compliance of regulations.

Consulting a colleague to tap into their experience and knowledge is an efficient method of getting a head start on a project, and 75 percent of government attorneys noted they seek help from a colleague weekly, and sometimes more often, regarding unfamiliar legal issues. But as many Boomer-era attorneys, who likely have served in government for many years, are in position to retire or will be retiring, they will take their institutional knowledge with them.

“Technological resources and workflow solutions are important resources government attorneys should use to help improve their efficiency, allocate their time more effectively and mitigate the loss of institutional knowledge in the retirement wave if they are going to successfully address the wide array of legal matters they deal with regularly,” added Rubley.

To read the full Thomson Reuters Government Law Departments 2017 report and to download the infographic, click here.

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