Are you afraid to delegate?

26443327_SOne of the hardest things to do for a law firm owner to do is delegate.  Instead of letting others handle various tasks, they want to do it all themselves.  This might work for some when a law firm is relatively small in size.  But if a law firm is going to grow, this has to come to an end.

Instead of letting other attorneys in their firm handle cases, they want to have their hand in all of the cases.  That means they enter in all the cases.  It means they try to supervise everything that is taking place.  They want to review and sign all the pleadings.  They want to go to all the court dates.

Versus having an office manager, office administrator, or somebody in a similar role, they want to handle these tasks as well as being the lead litigator at the firm.  This means that they personally handle all matters relating to supplies, technology, bank accounts, insurance, leases and various other tasks.

Versus having somebody in their firm take the lead with the marketing, they try to handle this role as well.  So, they help design and produce advertisements.  They take all the calls from various companies that are soliciting the firm with various advertising opportunities.

In addition to these items, the attorney takes calls from potential clients and does initial consultations.  When a client is unhappy, they try to take all of these calls as well.  When budgets need to be created, they are on front lines once again.  When new employees need to be hired, they do the screening and interviewing themselves.

What is the net effect of this?  The net effect of this is the law firm does none of these tasks very well.  Before long, the quality of legal work begins to diminish.  After that, the firm starts running out of supplies or computer equipment isn’t getting repaired.  Additionally, the firm stops marketing effectively, gets into budgetary problems, and cannot effectively fill open positions.

What’s the solution?  A law firm owner can’t do it all.  If the firm is trying to grow, the law firm owner has to surround themselves with exceptional people who can handle these responsibilities independently (with some level of adequate supervision from the law firm owner, of course).  That normally means that other attorneys need to be hired to handle a huge portion of the cases from start to finish.  It means that administrative staff should be hired to handle these functions almost independently.

At the end of the day, no law firm owner can do it all.  The law firms that fail are the ones where the owner spreads themselves too thin.  It’s important to recognize what the law firm owner’s strengths and weaknesses are, what the needs of the firm are, hire good personnel and then delegate accordingly (with the appropriate amount of oversight).

It’s also important to trust others.  Sure, you are bound to get burned from time-to-time.  But the only way you can grow a successful practice is to put good people around you and trust them.  If you get burned, hire and supervise better the next time.

If you have any thoughts, do not hesitate to share them below.

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