Focus on your strengths: Hire for your weaknesses

According to Ann Guinn of G&P Associates, a lawyer must be an entrepreneur, a manager and a technician. This is particularly true in a small firm or solo practice.

Many lawyers are very comfortable in the role of technician (in essence, practicing law). But not every lawyer is comfortable in the other two essential roles (i.e. the entrepreneur who generates the work or the manager who figures out the best way to run the office efficiently).

The reason is simple: most of us have natural strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, because management and marketing are generally not addressed in law school, most of us have a skills gap.

Being successful,  therefore, requires that you figure out what you do well. Where there is a gap, hire an employee, outsource certain functions entirely or educate yourself so that you can be more effective.

If you are feeling uncertain about marketing, technology, time management, accounting or HR, consider doing one or several of the following:

  1. Attend a bar association CLE or a brown bag lunch that addresses your gaps;
  2. Read articles (many consultants post free content to get you started and the ABA publishes a lot of resources to help lawyers run their law practice);
  3. Find a mentor in private practice. Ask if you can  buy them lunch and "pick their brain;"
  4. Contact the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program for free technical support;
  5. Hire an administrator who has the skills you need;
  6. Outsource functions to appropriate professionals (e.g. an accountant, payroll service, technology company); and
  7. Work with a consultant or coach who is knowledgeable about marketing, finance, technology, human resources or time management. From there you can decide whether you want to have the consultant do the work or if you want to assume the responsibility yourself.

Tip courtesy of Stephen Seckler, Seckler Legal Consulting and Coaching.

Published September 29, 2011


To learn more about the Law Practice Management Section, which is complimentary for all MBA members, contact LPM Section Chair Thomas J. Barbar or Vice Chair Stephen Seckler.
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