There is only one thing that is irreplaceable: TIME. And everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week (even Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg do not have a single minute more than you). It’s what we choose to do with our time that makes a difference.
You excel when you focus on work that only you can do—a/k/a your “Unique Ability”. You are passionate, focused and “in the zone” when you do the work that no one can do it quite like you.
What Do You Want to Do Less of?
Begin by writing your “NOT-TO-DO” List–the work that you can’t stand. What do you want to do less of?
Here’s my top 3 on the Not-To-Do List:
#1: Paperwork: I hate paperwork, including expert responses, discovery responses, responding to mail, etc. I’d much rather let our paralegals do the paperwork.
#2: Less Client Communication: Don’t like speaking with clients to inform them about the status of their case. I’d much rather let other team members update our clients on a weekly basis.
#3: Accountability: Don’t like checking to make sure team members are doing what they are supposed to do. Drives me crazy when I have to ask more than once for something to be done and ideally, our team members know what do to without being asked.
What are the payoffs of delegating this work? More time for strategic planning and less time checking the work of our team members. In essence, this creates more time to create and implement systems and policies for the growth and self-management of our law firm. But you’re just getting started.
What are You Going to Delegate?
How can you delegate the activities on your Not-To-Do List? Create a Top 3 list of activities you want to delegate. Each of your Top 3 Delegations addresses the activities on your Not-To-Do List.
Your Top 3 Delegations might be:
#1: Implement the Pre-Litigation and Litigation Checklists: Ensures cases are completed within 18 months with specific timeframes for each phase of discovery.
#2: Client Communication: Create a system for ensuring frequent communication (a/k/a touchpoints) with clients and referral partners. Have multiple touchpoints that are checked at various milestones in the lawsuit.
#3: Quarterly Evaluations of Team Members: Evaluate team members based upon 3 key metrics (“Big 3”) for every position on our firm’s growth/organizational chart. Don’t wait to the end of the year evaluations to evaluate whether your team is doing their job.
Once you’ve identified the activities you don’t want to do, and the Top 3 Delegations, it’s time to focus on the activities that you love.
What Do You Want to do More of?
Once you’ve created the activities that you don’t want to do, it’s time to create the list of the activities that you want to do more of.
My Unique Ability consist of 5 activities:
#1: I Love Writing!: Includes books, articles, newsletters and updates to referral partners about the status of a referred case.
#2: Spending Time with Wife and Kids: Building stronger relationships means carefree timelessness with Lisa and the kids (and our pooch, Patch).
#3: Strategic Planning for Law Firm: Creating and implementing systems and policies for every aspect of marketing, case management and law firm operations and includes quarterly strategic planning with team members at an off-site location.
#4: Mentoring Lawyers: Builds relationships with referral sources and something I just get a kick out of.
#5: Evaluating New Cases: Analyzing medical records and reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of a new case. I enjoy updating referral partners about our evaluation of a referred case—this is the “One Thing” I do (almost) every day).
What have You Learned about Yourself?
You live for a higher purpose than pushing papers. For many of us, our Unique Ability is to do creative, visionary and strategic work. If your Unique Ability is anything like mine, you’ve discovered a few things about yourself:
#1: I Love Creative Work!: Enjoy forming strategic and visionary plans and goals that are one-of-a-kind. Love creating something from scratch (e.g., Mastermind Experience) and watching it grow.
#2: I Hate the Grind: The day-to-day grind sucks. Don’t bother me with details—just let me know when the work is done.
#3: I Love a Self-Managed Law Firm: Totally into creating policies and systems for marketing and management of a law firm and not having to check to make sure the work gets done.
A self-managed law firm frees you up to do the creative, fun work that you want to do, but haven’t given yourself permission to do.
A Harsh Reality that Few Lawyers Will Ever Admit
A few years ago, I met with one of the nation’s top marketing gurus. No topic was off limits as we brainstormed the best marketing ideas for growing a law firm. Can’t say I learned much, except for one take-away: the marketing guru told me that the highest earning entrepreneurs spend more than 50% of their time on marketing and business development.
Did not completely accept the guru’s advice, at least not at first. But time and again some of the leading plaintiffs’ lawyers told me the same thing: marketing is your business.
- Without marketing, you don’t have clients,
- Without clients, you don’t have $,
- Without $, you don’t have a business.
This is the reality you face. Once you accept this reality, you will be head and shoulders above all of the other lawyers in your community who are fighting and clawing just to pay the bills.