Be the lawyer

Be the lawyer

Would you sub in for a neurosurgeon friend who’s off on sick leave? How about take a tooth out for a neighbor? I hope not. That would be as silly. That would be like one of them walking into court and representing one of your clients. Or drafting a make or break M&A deal.

To put it another way, when your car breaks down, who do you go to? When your sink is clogged and you’ve tried to fix it on your own, but it’s not working, who do you call? Who do you go to when you’re not feeling well?

So why do you try to be the HR, marketing professional, office manager, IT or lawyer coach? Do you really think you are the best person you know to take care of these areas? And even if you are, where’s the time to be the lawyer? You are a lawyer right? That’s what you went to school for all those years for, and invested in your education, right?

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that you think you are ‘saving’ money by doing it all. Actually, if you look at the time you spend doing anything but the legal work, mentoring your staff on the legal work, or bringing more work in, and the difference in cost if you delegated anyone of these tasks to a professional in that area, you will find you are losing money, and losing BIG TIME.

My point here is why are you trying to do everything yourself? Why not focus on being the best lawyer you can be and then build a team around you to take care of everything else. Just a suggestion.

Oh and by the way, none of us can do it all on our own. We all need help.


Scheduling your business development

Yesterday in coaching a group of associates, once again the issue of time came up. When and how do I make time for my business development is an age old question. In our brainstorming session, one tax associate came up with his own answer. He said “I don’t do anything unless it pops up in my outlook”. Well then, make the appointment with yourself using your outlook calendar. Sometimes it’s the simplest approach that works best. And it’s really about self-discipline.

Keeping track of your success

As you become more effective and successful at bringing in business, do yourself a favor and record your wins. Keep a ‘success diary’ of all your successful business development efforts. You can refer back to it from time to time to remind yourself what you did right. And, keeping track or measuring your success will serve you well if you are approaching partnership and also when it’s time to talk about compensation.

The way forward

I am working with a client who is nearing the end of our six month program. For the past few calls we have been working on managing the growth of his practice. You have likely heard the expression, “Dress for where you want to be, not where you are.” The same can be said about your practice. Act where you want to be, not where you are.

This of course refers to changing the way you manage your practice as you grow. It involves changing your behavior. It means more delegating, becoming more selective in the files you take on, grooming the juniors to handle more of your work and building your team. This client gets it. He can see this is the only way forward to reach his goals.

Too much work? What now?

On a call with a client yesterday and he is at the stage now where he must start to delegate more. He has become very successful at bringing in new clients and work. He finds himself at capacity. The first thing I recommended he do was to think about which files he could delegate to other lawyers. Now that he has created some momentum with his business development efforts, the worst thing he could do is stop. A lot of the smaller files are not supporting his goals. By dropping a couple of them and focusing on his business development, he is more likely to reach his goals sooner.

It’s time to put aside the ‘lawyer’ hat and put on the ‘business’ hat. At this stage you must become very strategic and selective of the work you take on. With growth come new challenges. And these are exactly the types of challenges you want.