Growing Your Firm? Do the Math!

This article was provided by Gary Mitchell, a lawyer coach since 2005, taking a unique approach with his clients by focusing on the psychological aspect of the way they work. Having coached lawyers from coast to coast spanning numerous practice areas and at all stages in their careers, Gary continues to expand and hone his knowledge of the legal industry with every new client engagement.

If you are engaged in building a team, whether it be in solo practice, building a small law firm, or a partner at a larger firm, by far, the number one mistake I have witnessed over the past 17 years, is when lawyers avoid looking at the math staring them right in the face. 

Let’s start with you. 

If you are running the firm, it starts with you and your time. Your time must be focused on three key areas; being the best lawyer you can be (your client’s work), continuous business development, (bringing in new clients and work), and building and leading your team, (performing the work at the highest level).

Everything else should be delegated to where it can most cost-effectively be executed and produce the best results-oriented outcomes for your clients. 

Keep this formula as you build your team. Teach your lawyers this model so that they can build their teams in the same fashion. Within a very short period, a couple of things will become obvious. 1. Your clients will be happier, and 2. You will begin to see higher profits! How do I know? Because my clients that follow this advice have proven it to be true. 

If you are a visual person, think of a pyramid. You are at the top and building your team or firm, you are building it deeper and broader. The foundation then is very solid, and capacity and profits are at their highest level. 

I don’t know how many times I have heard myself say to a client, “Just do the math!”

Here are a couple of examples to articulate what I mean.

Sure, maybe you can do a task, but are you the best choice, the best person to do it? You may be able to fix your toilet, but if it takes you 4 hours to do it when a plumber could fix it in 20 minutes, are you really saving any money?

Compare what you charge for your time or service to that which you would pay a plumber. The same goes for lower-level legal work and admin tasks. While you may be able to get them done, is that the best and most effective use of your time?

Do the math!

Take the same approach with your staff and lawyers. 

Stop thinking of your lawyers or paralegals as cost centers—they should be revenue centers. And if they are not, you may not have the right people on board, or in their best roles. Calculate the difference between what you bill them out for and what you pay them. If you have the right people on board, they should be contributing to your revenue and profit growth. 

Do the math!

Not allocating the work to where it can most efficiently and effectively be performed will leave even more profits on the table. Overworking your lawyers with work a paralegal or assistant could easily do is not only not good for profitability, but you are burning them out and not allowing them the time to be the best lawyer they can be.

This is not rocket science. In fact, it’s simple, yet so many firm owners make these same mistakes every day. It really comes down to two things: time and math. By making a few adjustments to how you lead and manage your firm, you could be staring at very impressive financial gains. 

Do the math!

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