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Why You Aren’t Really the CEO of Your Law Firm

How many $7-per-hour tasks did you do this morning?

If you’re like a lot of attorneys we speak with—and like me when I started my firm—you wear a lot of hats that don't belong in the CEO’s corner office.

Take a step back for a second. What is your billing rate? What is a client worth to you?

For every hour you spend on low-value tasks, you’re choosing to lose an hour of producing or finding new sources of income. Have a look at the following list:

  • Answering the phone
  • Going to the post office
  • Ordering office supplies
  • Filing
  • Creating standard documents
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Updating your website
  • Making travel plans
  • Researching referral partners

Every time you choose to handle one of those tasks, you’re stealing from yourself.

If you have a solo practice, you may think you have no other choice. It has to be this way. But it doesn’t.

Related: Running a Law Practice and Want Your Life Back?

You don’t have to hire a full-time staff. But if you hire part-time help, you’ll gain more opportunities to leverage time.

As you free yourself from these $7-per-hour tasks, you open up your calendar for higher-value tasks, and you allow yourself to focus on client work. As I learned to delegate more, my business performance - and my legal performance - both shot up.

We only have a finite amount of attention and energy. The more energy we spend on low-value tasks, the more energy we drain from tasks that can help us build a better business and better represent our clients.

It’s Necessary, But It’s Hard

Let’s not sugarcoat this. It’s hard to make your first law firm hire, your second hire, and so on. But that’s no reason to give up.

Ever wonder how McDonald’s can run thousands of stores with staff consisting of mostly teenagers? It’s not because they’ve made the corporate decision to hand over the keys of each franchise to a bunch of kids, and hope they can flip and serve burgers.

Related: Want to Build a Successful Law Practice? Develop a Quarterly Plan

They have a system. A process in which everyone understands what to do, what success looks like, and what is expected of each individual.

A CEO Is a Manager of People and Processes

When you implement systems and processes, and trust others to follow them, you stop being the receptionist and start being the CEO.

Sure, you might still be the doer of some things today. But you eventually must realize that you’re wearing the CEO hat.

If you want to be the CEO, act like the CEO. If you’re still doing things that you should be delegating, make sure you understand that you’re reporting to yourself with the eventual goal of replacing yourself.

This is how practices are grown – by taking smart chances and delegating the right way, like we help people do in our Practice Growth program.

If you want to be CEO of your law practice, you have to learn and embrace a whole new set of skills. Business skills. This process may be scary at first, but it’s critical to your freedom and the success of your practice.

It’s too bad that law school really teaches you how to be a paralegal.

Raj Jha