The key to any successful practice is to find a balance between working on the business and in the business. If you want to grow your practice, effective time management is crucial. However, when we speak to the partners of the firms we work with, they tell us they simply don’t have enough time to deal with the development side of the business.
So, what’s the solution? It’s time to delegate…
Most practices are made up of a team of fee earners and secretaries, and there will be occasions where some of your staff members are underutilised. If you are spending too much non-chargeable time on tasks that could be done by others, this could be hindering your growth as a firm. If your knowledge and expertise could be better served by developing the business, then being able to delegate and manage your time is essential.
The old saying goes that “the art of management is delegation” and this still rings true today. We would advise reviewing a typical working week to identify possible tasks that could be given to either a secretary or a fee earner. Please see our previous blogs on time recording and WIP management for advice to help you identify which staff members may have the capacity for additional work.
The easiest and most obvious solution is to pass some work on to your fee earners. As your fee earners will also have gained a level of expertise, why not delegate work to them? And, if this is a task that can be used as a teaching exercise, this will enable them to support the practice again in the future!
There are also many occasions where secretaries have free time that could be used to assist a partner. For example, if you are spending time creating a client pitch presentation then why not pass this over to a secretary to finalise? Or, do you have a document that could be proofread by a secretary?
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you are the only person with the ability to complete a task. In fact, upskilling your fee earners and secretaries will benefit the entire firm, as this will create a good foundation of knowledge, skills and expertise to support future growth.
Furthermore, by delegating key tasks to fee earners, you will be passing on valuable learning opportunities to your future successors.
Ask yourself the following five questions:
- Do you spend a lot of time on admin tasks such as writing letters, billing and WIP write offs?
- Do you have any fee earners who may be looking for an opportunity to progress within the firm?
- Could you pass on certain client management responsibilities to a fee earner?
- Are there any occasions where your support staff have nothing to do?
- Are your support staff working hard enough?
At Charnwood, we provide practical business advice to help partners identify better ways to manage and delegate key tasks. For more information about our support for solicitors, please get in touch by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org