“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.
As a small practice attorney, do you feel like this statement applies to you? Perhaps you feel like you must choose between two scenarios:
- Scenario 1: If you hire staff members and other attorneys to run your office and help with your case load, and you'll spend so much time managing your employees that you don’t have time to practice law.
- Scenario 2: Do everything yourself, and spend so much time on administration that you don’t have time to practice law.
If you feel this way, you’re looking at things the wrong way. Having a staff is supposed to lighten your load, not add to it—so if you feel bogged down and distracted by managing your staff, you’re not effectively managing them. As I detail in my book The DNA of the Autonomous Attorney, when you set up a workable system for staff management, you will have more time to grow your business. Here are some tips to steer you straight:
Establish a system, and train your staff to work within it
Streamlining your office begins with setting a workable system in place. From interoffice communication to time tracking and project management, set up a consistent infrastructure, and then train your staff to know how to work within it. And don't worry if it's less than perfect at first. Just getting a system up and running will help everyone be on the same page and on task.
Educate your clients on the system, as well
Effective management doesn’t just involve your staff; it involves your clients, too. Determine the most effective lines of communication with your clients, and make sure they know to use those methods for a quick response. In my office, for example, we encourage clients to correspond via email, and we have a system in place to timestamp, track and optimize our response times.
Evaluate your system’s effectiveness
Once your management system is in place, test it regularly to look for ways to improve it. Hiring mystery shoppers is a great way to test your front-end sales effectiveness, while occasional client surveys can deliver excellent feedback on your day-to-day service.
You’re a lawyer, not a manager, and managing staff should not be your full-time job. With a uniform system that streamlines office workflow, you’ll be more comfortable with delegating tasks, thus you'll have more time to better serve your clients.