If you are like most lawyers, you don’t often stop and take a look at how you are actually spending your time. As the old adage goes, time is money.
Are you trying to do everything yourself? This is common whether you are a solo-practitioner or working at a firm. But sit down and do the math. By the way I was never really good at math growing up, but this is what you call simple math. If you are spending time doing anything that could be delegated to someone, perhaps one of your staff, or outsourced, and pay them less than it would cost you in your time, that saves you money.
In fact one of the expressions I often use with my clients is “Where are you leaving money on the table?” Because that is exactly what you are doing. So instead of thinking it’s cheaper to do it yourself, think about the real cost of doing it yourself.
If you freed up more of your time what would you do with it? Spend more time going after more clients and growing your business? More client lunches to shore up current relationships? More volunteer work? More time with your family. This is really about when common sense meets the math. Then once you figure this out for yourself, duplicate the process with anyone on your team that is a fee-earner.
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Due out September 24, 2014 from Carswell is my second book aimed at helping lawyers and law firms grow. In this edition I take you through my proprietary methodology TST™, Targeted, Strategic and Tactical. Working with Lawyers these past nine years I developed systems and processes allowing you to get more clients with less time invested. When you become more targeted, strategic and tactical in your approaches, you will see better results.
There are two editions, one for lawyers at large firms, and one for lawyers in small firms. The small firm edition includes an entire chapter aimed at law firm leaders wishing to grow the firm. It includes:
- Becoming more effective as a leader
- Balancing Lawyering, leading, and rainmaking
- Engaging your entire team in business development
- Compensation models to reward your people and incentivise them to achieve
- Succession planning
If you are looking to grow your firm or practice, this book is a must read. You can pre-order it online from Carswell. Just follow this link. http://www.carswell.com//product-search/?qa=prod&qt=Raindance
A general rule of thumb I share with my clients is this. If your time is not focused on doing the work, generating the work, or managing your people and the work, then whatever tasks are taking up your time should be delegated to a non-fee earner. Do the Math. Look at your billable hour rate. Or look at what your time is worth if you work on contingency. Does it really make sense for you to be managing your IT, or Admin? Couldn’t you easily pay someone in the neighborhood of $25-$30 an hour to take over those tasks? Again, if you’re not doing the work, you’re not billing. If you’re not bringing in the work, you’re not growing your firm. And if you’re not managing the people and the work, there is more room for error.
The same goes for every other fee earner at your firm. If your law clerk is busy doing admin, that is non-billable time. You can’t expect your people to realistically hit or surpass their targets if they are engaged in work that is non-billable. You have a lot of money sitting on the table that could easily increase your bottom line. Always make sure your people are doing what is most valuable to your bottom line. Consider out-sourcing part of the lower-level work, or hire someone part-time if there isn’t enough for a full-time position. There is always a solution.
I have a lot of clients who identify procrastination as one of the things they would like to improve on. It’s very common. What is also common is that most of my clients also suffer from perfectionism syndrome. So, are they related? A fear of being judged? A fear of being wrong? Or even a fear of judging yourself?
The next time you find yourself procrastinating, ask yourself those questions.
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.