If you're like most sole practitioners, you're probably a bit of a control freak: you've got a particular way of doing things (filing paperwork, emailing clients, answering the phone), and you adhere to the adage, “if you want to do things right, you've got to do it yourself.” In fact, there is something to be said for this attitude, because hiring employees is always a bit of a crap shoot—they may work out, or they may not, but either way they become (at least in part) the public face of your law firm.
Want Trustworthy Employees? Set Up Your Systems in Advance
One of the worst things a manager can do is to “reinvent the wheel” every time he hires an employee, muddling his way through training sessions and not even having a clear idea about the new hire's responsibilities and reporting structures. At the best law firms, managers set up systems in advance to train employees how to:
- Respond to inquiries from existing and potential clients
- Schedule hearings, appointments, consultations, etc.
- File paperwork and client information
- Bill clients on a regular basis, and account for the attorney's time
- ”Escalate” problems or issues to the appropriate person in the firm hierarchy
- Write newsletters, post blogs, and update the firm's website
- Follow up appropriately with potential clients who respond to the firm's marketing campaigns
You Must Do Your Best to Help Your Employees Succeed
You cannot do everything in your law office by yourself—and really, you don’t want to. Imposing militant time management on your legal firm means delegating tasks whenever appropriate, but that requires a staff ready to take on the challenge.