Like it or not, as a practicing lawyer, you have to think like a business owner—which means you have to constantly be on the lookout for ways to market, expand, and develop your legal practice. Michael Gerber, the author of the influential book E-Myth, writes that business owners have to wear three different “hats,” often all at the same time: the technician, the manager, and the entrepreneur. Juggle these hats clumsily, and you'll have a hard time attracting new clients!
Technician + Manager + Entrepreneur = Successful Business Owner
In the course of your day, you probably juggle all sorts of tasks, ranging from consulting with new clients to presenting briefs in court to sitting down with a calculator and doing your daily billing. To complete these chores successfully, you have to think in three different ways:
- As a technician. The technician is the part of you that knows your area of the law inside and out, and can summon up a reference, or a court decision, with the snap of your fingers.
- As a manager. Even if you're a sole practitioner, you have to manage and massage various egos throughout the course of the day: clients, paralegals, opposing counsel, etc.
- As an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur is the person who says to himself, “This is what I'm doing today, but what can I do to expand my business and client base tomorrow?”
As you've probably already realized, these three “hats” don't always fit equally well on the same head. You may be more at ease digging into musty archives than recruiting new clients, or you may enjoy the “shmoozing” part of your job more than you do the technical details. And the fact is that many lawyers are competent as managers and technicians, but fall down flat when they have to think about their practices from an entrepreneurial perspective.