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​Is Your Law Practice a Hamster Wheel or Oil Well? ​

We often see attorneys who just show up at their office and do whatever’s directly in front of them. They don’t distinguish between what’s urgent and what’s important.

This is an extremely important distinction to make. Just because a particular task is clamoring for your immediate attention doesn’t mean it’s important for your practice’s growth. If we don’t understand this, we won’t grow!

Here’s the big idea: everything we do in our practice is either being done for today or being done for tomorrow.

Client work, for example, is a today thing. It may have some implications for the future, but ultimately, client work is about immediate, short-term delivery.

The problem is, today work tends to take precedent over tomorrow work.

We fill up our days with what our clients’ urgent “needs”, and this comes at the expense of building a functional practice that’s also an excellent business.

We end up trading our tomorrow for today.



Here’s a useful exercise to help us make the crucial distinction: Think about everything you do in your practice as part of either a hamster wheel or oil well.

A hamster wheel activity is something that sends you around and around but doesn’t really get you anywhere.

An oil well activity is something that lets you dig and dig until you eventually have an income-producing asset. The more time we spend digging oil wells and less time we spend on the hamster wheel, the more our practice can grow.

Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center. Draw a little hamster wheel on one side and an oil well on the other, and list out everything you do over the next week in the appropriate category.

If you’re like most attorneys, very few things will be listed in the oil well category. It’s a nice wake-up call to help you realize why your practice has been hitting a ceiling.

It’s often because you’ve spent too much time on the hamster wheel and not enough time building for the future.

Keep this list on your desk and think about which hamster wheel activities you can delegate or outsource. This allows you to focus on becoming more of an owner than an employee in your practice.

Raj Jha