Bad Habits Every Lawyer Needs to Break
While no one wants to develop bad habits, they seem to be an unfortunate part of every business. Lawyers, like everyone else, are capable of developing bad habits that are harmful and detrimental to their practices. After practicing law for the last seven years, I have developed a list of bad habits that I work on each and every day. Here are some bad habits that lawyers need to break today:
Knowing what jobs or activities in your practice need to be done doesn’t always or necessarily mean you need to do them. If you are constantly approaching the management of your firm’s team by wondering how else the job will get done unless you do it, you are likely micromanaging your staff.
Aside from the fact that this approach can cause friction in the practice between yourself and your team, this bad habit also makes it impossible for you to do your job properly. If you are controlling everyone else’s job, you might as well be doing it for them. Of course, then no one is doing your job. So stop overseeing everyone else’s every move and give up some of that control that you know you clutch so fiercely.
Failing to Delegate
If you are micromanaging you staff, it stands to reason that you aren’t delegating enough (or possibly at all). Yes, it feels so much safer to be in absolute control over everything. This is your practice that you built with your own blood, sweat and tears, right? But all your hard work will eventually come to a screeching halt if you can’t learn to share the load. Make sure everyone in the office has clear duties and assignments, knows how to complete these tasks, and give up control by letting them do their job.
Stop. Assess. Plan. Execute. First, stop what you are doing for 15 minutes. Assess what you alone can only do. Assess what staff remains and who is best suited for the assignments. Plan how to ensure that your staff is trained and spend time ensuring that they understanding their roles. And most importantly, allow the people you hired to help your practice law.
Your employees need feedback, but how you give that feedback is critical. It may have caused you actual physical pain to accomplish steps 1 and 2, but don’t waste all that effort by undoing it with negative commentary and ridicule. Undoubtedly, you will think of at least a dozen ways of how you could do the job at hand differently or even better. Remember the point is you can’t do every job, so when things don’t go how you want, sit down with the person in charge of the task and tell them first what they are doing right. Then discuss things that you think could be done more effectively. Consider letting them give feedback on their performance first before you begin offering advice on how to do things differently. Don’t bombard them with too many changes at once, and end with a final comment of positive feedback. Using constructive feedback that includes the employee as part of his or her feedback process will only help things operate more smoothly. Everyone can learn something new and find more effective ways to work, but how you go about giving your feedback is essential to the success of that feedback.
Ultimately, breaking these three bad habits will not only make your day operate more efficiently, it will also increase productivity, and if handled correctly, the harmony of your law firm day in and day out. Another perk? You can focus on practicing law and building your practice. Sounds like a win-win situation.
Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h