Your Staff Wants You to Be a Lawyer and a Leader, Not a Pal

You should lead your staff, not spend time in the trenchesIf you're a partner at a small law firm, you may occasionally find it useful to “pitch in” with certain tasks, in order to show your lower-level employees that you're not above photocopying documents, taking phone calls, or even calling in a lunch order. This is a technique straight out of management 101, and it works: everyone appreciates it when the boss steps down from his high horse occasionally and helps with the household chores.

If you spend too much of your time helping your employees with their routine tasks, though, you may have the opposite effect on morale. Your assistants and paralegals know that you and your partners are the main source of revenue for the entire firm: you bill your time at hundreds of dollars an hour, while they're lucky to make one-fifth or one-sixth of that amount. And they also know that their salaries are paid from the money you bill to clients—so if you spend an entire morning collating and stapling documents, they may wonder why you're not out making some real dough!

The fact is that the most successful lawyers know that their time is best spent doing what high-priced lawyers do: conferring with clients, taking depositions, and all the other tasks that simply cannot be handled by an assistant or paralegal. Even losing a single billable hour a day to scut work can shave thousands of dollars off of your monthly bottom line.

Ben Glass
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Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.
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