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  • Solo, You Are a Micromanager!

    by Dina Eisenberg

    If you do everything in your law practice because you believe that nobody can do it better and others will just waste your time and money, guess what? You are a micromanager, Solo!

    It seems funny to say that solo lawyers can also be micromanagers when you don’t have team. Yet, it’s true. Because you refuse to delegate you are vulnerable to making the same mistakes that a small firm lawyer would make when it comes to outsourcing.

    Whether you are a solo lawyer or a small firm lawyer, you suffer the same bad results when you micromanage: poor work experiences, lower quality work, stress and burnout. Let’s look at micromanaging a little closer.

    What is micromanaging?

    Micromanaging is a management style where you have excessive control over every detail and aspect of the project without regard to the impact on others or yourself.

    You know exactly what it feels like to be micromanaged if you’ve worked for anyone else for any length of times. It sucks.

    Signs that you are a micromanager

    You need a truthful mirror to reflect to you things that are true but not necessarily seen by you. That’s the kind of clarity I offer to my private clients.

    There are signs that you micromanage that you might not see in yourself. Check this list out. You are a micromanager if you…

    1. Have a hard time asking for help
    2. Check in frequently to see if the work is being done/done your way
    3. Monitor every detail, even the smallest ones
    4. Believe that no one can produce what you can
    5. Don’t take advice or suggestions from others
    6. Make all the decisions involved in the project
    7. Believe that others will waste time or money

     

    What micromanaging says about you

    There are so many jokes and war stories about micromanagers. That’s kinda sad. People see micromanagers as difficult to work with, disrespectful and rude.

    While some micromanagers like being characterized as ‘particular’, it really is a bad look, especially if you want to grow your law firm. You tell the world these things when you refuse to delegate effectively…

    • You lack trust in yourself
    • You lack trust in others
    • You fear mistakes
    • You fear being judged
    • You lack the ability to see talent in others
    • You lack emotional intelligence

     

    Harvard Business Review reports that collaboration and soft skills are the key skills to possess if you want to future-proof your business. That seems especially true for lawyers as the profession adjusts to new market conditions and demands from clients for more efficiency.

    How do you stop micromanaging?

    How do you stop micromanaging?

    First, realize that you didn’t develop this habit overnight or for no good reason. You won’t lose it without a fight or over the weekend. It will take consistent attention and effort to reshape your thinking and behaviors. Be patient with yourself.

    Second, get a coach. You need guidance and feedback. You can’t properly hear what you sound like so you need a truthful mirror to reflect to you and show you where to change. I’d be happy to help you

    Third, practice delegation. Delegate more. Start small. Recognize that you and your help have a shared goal: doing the best work possible.

    Fourth, shift your mindset from managing to leading. Managers control things. Leaders inspire action, collaboration, and commitment. Leaders focus on the positive, not the negatives.

    Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity- George Patton

    Are you a micromanager? No worries if you are. You can grow out of it and have a happier, less stressful work life with guidance and a little work on your emotional intelligence.

    For more information and friendly guidance, connect with Dina Eisenberg at https://OutsourceEasier.com

  • 3 Law Firm Automation Tips to Save You Hours of Time

    Can law firm automation really save you time? More importantly, how can law firm automation improve your practice life? Many lawyers are afraid of embracing the automation concept. Yet, automation is already party of the legal industry. Potential clients have more options than ever before when it comes to getting their basic legal needs met. They can choose to use a website that provides state-specific simple legal documents, and many of those sites will allow them to have a lawyer associated with the site complete the form for them.

    Automation in the legal industry isn’t about making lawyers obsolete. Law firm automation is about giving lawyers more time to focus on bringing in clients and handling the parts of law that only they can do. Law firm automation is good for clients, too. They get even more value for their money because the basics are completed much faster. Clients won’t feel ignored because you’re busy working on other projects.

    Here are 3 law firm automation tips that will save you hours of time in your practice.

    Start by Automating Client Documentation

    It can take a lot of time to complete, collect, review, and assemble client documentation. In addition to dealing with a mound of paper for each client, you must ensure that you’re creating quality work product. If you’ve ever misplaced (or totally lost) client documentation, you know the fear and dread that can consume you.

    Automating client documentation saves you time and helps create quality documents each and every time. Because the process is digital, it makes it more difficult for you (or your support staff) to misplace or lose documents.

    For example, consider fee agreements. Even if you have a fee agreement template that you change in Word, you must spend time going through the agreement to change the name, remove unnecessary provisions, add the right provisions, and hope that you remember to do a “Save-As” instead of a hard save. Think about how much time you spend every time you change your fee agreement template. And, if you don’t know, time yourself. However, be careful not to rush through the process because you can end up creating more mistakes, and your time study will be inaccurate.

    When the fee agreement becomes a standard part of law firm automation, it’s automatically completed after the client puts their information into your online form. You can choose whether the client will automatically receive a copy of the fee agreement. Using a fill-in-the-blank template that automatically populates from the information reduces the amount of time you spend on something that is non-billable and creates a more accurate document. You can even have your client sign the fee agreement online.

    Automated Client Intake Procedures

    Client intake is another important procedure, but is comprised of unbillable time. Law firm automation can help you save that time for billable projects. What could you do with the time you currently spend capturing information to get started on a case? Automating client intake also helps your clients. They don’t have to make the trip to your office. They don’t have to take off work. They can complete the intake process in the comfort of their own environment.

    The process is fairly simply. The client fills out an online questionnaire. The answers are emailed to you and automatically added to your CRM. You can choose to send the client to a calendar that allows them to choose a date and time to talk with you on the phone. A that time, you can verify accuracy and get any other information you need.

    Automating Email

    Email is a necessity of law firm life, but it has a way of sucking us in. Even if you create a list of standard responses you can copy and paste to answer questions, it still takes a lot of time. And what about separating out requests, deadlines, newsletters, junk, and assigning firm matters to others? Email can become an all-consuming task.

    Automating certain email tasks can save you hours of time each week. Start by setting up email rules and folders that separate your emails as they come in. You can set up rules based on senders and subjects. Create macros for your standard responses. This cuts down on the time it takes for you to handle your email while improving client relationships by providing timely, appropriate responses.

    Law Firm Automation Is Your Friend

    The time you have limits the amount of money you’re able to make. Lawyers who are better able to manage their time will make more money than those who don’t. Law firm automation can help you save hours of time. You can spend less time on nonbillable projects, make more money, and spend more time with your family.

  • Articulating Your Mission

    By John Grant, Attorney

    The Mission domain, sometimes expanded to Mission, Vision, and Values, should be the North Star of your operation. It is why you have a law practice to begin with—your declaration of purpose—and it should both encapsulate and permeate who you are as a business.

    I’m always surprised at the number of lawyers I meet who either don’t have a mission statement (about 75% by my unofficial polling), or who wrote something at some point but haven’t looked at it since.

    I’m also surprised at the number of lawyers who dismiss having a mission statement as “a marketing thing.” First off, ignore those “marketing things” at your own peril. But, more importantly, limiting your notion of Mission to one part of your business is dangerously siloed.

    I’m also surprised at the number of lawyers who dismiss having a mission statement as “a marketing thing.” First off, ignore those “marketing things” at your own peril. But, more importantly, limiting your notion of Mission to one part of your business is dangerously siloed.

    Yes, one role of your Mission is to attract customers. But its most important job—the one that too many people miss—is to both inspire and focus your own behavior.

    A good mission statement should get at answers to at least two questions:

    • Who do we serve?
    • What are the problems they have that we help solve?

    Some mission statements go on to answer other questions (How? Why?), but only the first two are strictly necessary.

    Instead of diving into details, it is far more important that your statement resonate at all levels of your organization. Specifically, a good mission statement should work for:

    1. You (and any other firm owners or team leaders),
    2. Your team members, and
    3. Your customers.

    That means something like “Our mission is to make a pile of money for me and my partners by doing legal work for anyone who wants it” isn’t gonna cut it.

    Let’s look at a few mission statements that I think are clear, inspiring, and empowering:

    • Nike’s mission statement is “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
    • WeWork’s mission is to “Create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living.”
    • Airbnb: “Belong anywhere.”
    • Slack: “Making work simpler, more pleasant, and more productive.”
    • Lyft: “Our mission is to reconnect people through transportation and bring communities together.”
    • Palace Law: “Our mission is to provide justice for the injured in every community”
    • Modern Law: “Our mission is to utilize innovation and technology to offer clients unique and customized legal services.”

    I won’t go into detail about every little thing I like about these, but I’ll mention three things they have in common.

    First, they’re memorable: I can recite most off them off the top of my head, and I don’t even work there.

    Next, they’re visionary. As I mentioned at the top of this post, a vision statement is sometimes a separate and complimentary thing to the Mission, but that doesn’t mean your mission statement shouldn’t aim high. “Every athlete in the world.” “Create a world.” “Every community.” They aren’t targets that those businesses will ever hit, but that isn’t the point. By aiming high, they, and their customers, will be better for the trying.

    Last, they’re personal. They reflect the identity of the business and the customers they are trying to serve. Put another way, they don’t look like they were spit out by a mission statement generator.

    Which gets me to the second biggest problem I see with lawyer mission statements: they don’t say anything special. (The biggest is not having one). I’m not going to name names, because I applaud any law firm that actually has articulated and promotes their Mission. But most of the ones that I see are pablum.

    Take, for example, this firm’s. They display it prominently on their website and even include photos of it posted prominently around the office (something I strongly recommend). But the statement itself is pretty bland:

    “Our mission is to help clients achieve their goals by providing high quality, ethically sound legal counsel and strategic advice. We work with clients to understand their objectives, resolve current issues and proactively anticipate and prevent future problems. We are committed to delivering efficient and cost-effective legal services with a focus on communication, responsiveness, and attention to detail.“

    In other words, our mission is to be lawyers. Full stop. Nothing here differentiates this firm from any other law firm in the world.

    This happens to be a mid-sized regional firm focusing on business law. Without knowing anything else about the firm or the attorneys who work there, I’d like to see something like:

    “Our mission is to guide tri-state businesses through the risks and uncertainties of the legal landscape so that they can pursue their goals with confidence.”

    Now this isn’t exactly specific to the firm in question, but at least it’s pithy. And it is framed from the perspective of the customer; reading it, a new client should come away with the notion that “I will have a guide, and that guide will help me meet my goals.” Seems to me like a better feeling than “I’m going to be working with a bunch of generic lawyers who will do lawyer stuff.”

    Or take this one:

    “Our mission is to provide professional and trusted legal services that assist businesses and non-profit organizations in operating sustainably. We provide expert legal counsel in combination with our own business backgrounds, and deliver valuable services in a timely and cost-effective way. We also live by what we preach—both inside our firm and in our community—by implementing sustainable business practices in every possible way, to help us, and our clients, to become driving forces toward a new economy.”

    Here, the impulse is correct, but let’s edit that sucker. Maybe approach it like an entrepreneur: what if you had to pitch an investor on this business? I, for one, would be more likely to buy-in if they used something like:

    “Our mission is to empower socially responsible businesses with dependable legal guidance, and to forge a sustainable path to prosperity for our clients and their communities.”

    Here’s a rough rule-of-thumb: If you can’t tweet your mission statement, you probably still have work to do. (Especially with the new 280 character limit).

    Finally, a good mission statement should suggest some ways to measure whether or not you’re on track to succeed at your Mission. These will be your Goals, and they will be the subject of the next post in this series.

     

    In the mean time, as you can probably tell, I love this stuff. If you’re interested in talking with me about your own Mission, or about improving any other aspect of your organization, please don’t hesitate to start a conversation with me. I’ve helped dozens of law firms and legal teams—both new and established—set a solid foundation for profitability, efficiency, and sustainable growth, and I’d love to help yours too.

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