One of the key things that you do as a lawyer is to help your clients sleep better at night. You identify legal risks and work with your clients to manage these risks. In doing so, you enable your clients to focus more of their mental energy on their businesses and less on worrying about what might go wrong.
Lawyers also need help in running their law practices. But unlike people who run other types of businesses, lawyers are not very good at asking for help. (“I’m smart. I should be able to figure this out myself.”)
In the complex world that we now live in, failing to get help can be a crucial mistake. As a lawyer, all you have to sell is your time. Do you want to spend your time doing client work and cultivating relationships that can lead to higher value client work? Or would you like to spend hours solving your computer problems, doing your own bookkeeping and preparing your own tax returns.
If you are just starting in practice, paying for help may not be feasible. Until you have generated some cash flow and until you are busy with client work, it may make sense to try a “do-it-yourself” approach for a while. But if that is the case, you can still tap into some of resources that are available to you at little or no cost. In doing so, you won’t spend hours reinventing the wheel.
One source of free help is other lawyers who have been in practice for a while. There are many attorneys who remember what it was like to be starting out. Find someone who is willing to meet with you to discuss how to organize your practice. Find out what technology they use and how they do their billing.
A great resource is Massachusetts LOMAP (Law Office Management Assistance Program), an agency supported by your bar dues. LOMAP provides free technical support to lawyers in the areas of law office management and technology. They will work with any lawyer in Massachusetts and they do a great job.
As your law practice (and your cash flow) continues to grow, make sure that you hire professionals who can help YOU sleep better at night. Hire an accountant and bookkeeper to worry about the books. Get a technology consultant who can work on your firm’s network while you spend time on legal work and marketing.
If you are spinning your wheels about where to focus your marketing energies, consider hiring a marketing coach. A good coach is a sounding board and provides guidance and encouragement to ensure that over time, you are doing the “right” things to help you elevate your reputation and build your referral relationships (and ultimately generate the work you want).
Initially, bringing in help may cause your cash flow to decrease. But hiring consultants is an investment in yourself and in your business. Getting help means giving yourself the time to produce higher quality work and to focus on building your business. You also get the benefit of learning how to run a more efficient and professional practice.
The great American myth is that people who are successful are self made. In truth, behind every successful politician, entrepreneur, athlete, performer or professional services provider is an army of support. So don’t be afraid to get help yourself. It will do wonders for your practice.
Posted by Stephen Seckler