There are few tricks to becoming a great attorney and one of them is learning to delegate. To advance in your jurisdiction and garner a stellar reputation, you must immerse yourself into your practice area – knowing not only the rule of law, but the nuances of relevant agencies and courts. Additionally, you must show your clients they come first by listening to them, advising them honestly and comforting them during difficult times.
"Without properly delegating, you may be holding yourself and your firm back."
Becoming an expert in your field and maintaining a client-focused practice isn't enough to grow your reputation and firm. These crucial activities can be harmed by spending too much time on tasks that could be performed quickly and efficiently by your staff. Without properly delegating, you may be holding yourself and your firm back.
Whether you're new to the delegating process or want to check in that you're using the practice to its most beneficial end, follow these steps:
1. Evaluate your daily workload
Before you can decide which tasks to delegate and to whom, you need to know where you're spending – and wasting – your time. If you use billable hours you may already be doing this, but track your time closely for at least week so you can measure how long you spend on various types of tasks such as researching, completing forms, drafting routine pleadings, scheduling, communicating with clients, copying and scanning paperwork and more.
Once you know how you spend your time, determine which of these tasks require a licensed attorney and which can be performed by an assistant, paralegal or clerk.
2. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of your staff
Once you've determined common tasks you perform that would be better suited for another staff member, it's time to start thinking about who is best for each job. Consider the education, training, years of experience, strengths and weaknesses of each of your staff members.
In many cases, assistants can take on administrative tasks like scheduling and scanning, experienced paralegals can draft routine pleadings and associates can perform research and draft more nuanced pleadings.
3. Observe the workload of your staff
Take a moment to evaluate their current tasks before assigning additional work to certain people. If the best person for a job has a full plate, you may want to consider reassigning some of his or her tasks to another staff member or providing a different person additional training to take on the new assignment.
Delegating with the best of intentions can fall apart if the people assigned the tasks don't have time. Adding to an already busy schedule can decrease both productivity and employee satisfaction.
4. Establish formal office procedures
Up until now, the delegating process has relied solely on you determining which tasks can be transferred to various other people in your office. It's time to formally communicate these changes.
Meet one on one with the necessary employees or hold a staff meeting to discuss the upcoming changes. Make sure each person affected understands how his or her role will change and which new duties you've assigned.
Additionally, this is where your case management software becomes important. Use this comprehensive resource to formally assign cases and tasks to the correct person. By focusing on collaborating through the platform, you can avoid confusion or the need for meetings that waste everyone's time.
5. Check in with the process
Use your CMS to evaluate how your delegation is working. Run reports based on employees, tasks or cases to see how people are performing and cases are progressing. By doing this once per month you'll be able to make adjustments to people's workloads as you go.
By delegating, you ensure you have the time to focus on your clients and substantive legal issues. It's a continual process that you need to watch over and evaluate to ensure it benefits you, your practice and your clients.