Many people accuse lawyers, often unfairly, of being greedy about their fees and the cuts they take from settlements.
A good lawyer is, in fact, greedy—but about his time rather than about his money. If you go about your daily schedule inefficiently, or allow people to waste your time unnecessarily, you lose the focus required to serve your clients to the best of your abilities—and, yes, in the long run, you also lose money.
Time is the Most Valuable Resource a Lawyer Has
It's amazing how people invest money in security systems for their homes, install expensive software on their computers to prevent identity theft, and stash most of their money in a federally insured bank—yet are complacent about allowing other people to steal their time.
In order to manage your law practice time properly, you have to:
- Relate everything you do to your goals. Is the time you're spending on a project or phone call really worth the end result?
- Calculate the true value of your time and delegate everything that doesn't merit that level of attention. A lawyer who bills at $500 an hour should not spend his time on hold dealing with high-speed Internet tech support!
- Don't make, or take, phone calls that haven't been scheduled in advance. One sure way to lose control of your day is to waste your time on unproductive phone calls with family, clients, or associates.
- Throw out your “to do” list. They may seem like a good idea, but these lists are usually counterproductive, because they're so easily amended and easily ignored.
- Explain to your associates and your clients, as courteously as you can, why your time is so valuable, and that they'll obtain a better end result if they respect your busy schedule.
If You Manage Your Time Well, You'll Be a More Effective Lawyer
As you can infer from the above list, you, and you alone, are responsible for your own time management. You have no one else to blame if you allow other people to waste your time or waylay you into spending it unproductively.