You will find it difficult to scale your law firm and earn more money if you are bogged down doing low value tasks.
Perhaps you’re a lawyer who hasn’t hired a team yet. You’re a sole practitioner, and you’re doing all the things yourself, maybe because you’re nervous about hiring somebody because you don’t know if you have the level of revenue yet that will allow you to consistently pay them.
Perhaps you’re nervous about hiring the wrong person or that they may not do the work as well as you need them to.
Or, perhaps you’re a law firm owner who already has a team but you’re still stuck doing lots of low value, tedious work.
You really want to figure out how to delegate better so that you can focus on the high value work that will actually make you more money and take you towards achieving your goals.
I can totally relate to this.
I used to be a law firm owner who held very tightly onto everything and tried to do all the things.
I had this mindset issue where I believed that I could do everything better than everybody else.
I felt like it would take me longer to teach somebody how to do it than it would for me just to crack on and get it done.
But I really wanted to grow my law firm, and I figured out that to do that, I needed to get the low value tasks off my plate.
Tasks like doing the dishes, putting the recycling bins out, or even emptying the dehumidifier we had in our server room back in the day – even on weekends.
These were all things I thought I had to do.
So I really had to figure out a process to help me buy back my time.
The reason I like to buy back my time is I believe that investing in myself is pretty much the best investment there is.
It means I have time to focus on what really matters.
Moving my business goals forward, spending time with my family, with my friends, looking after myself, keeping fit, charity work – just the things that I love to do.
Once you’re able to free yourself up from some of this low-level shit that you’re currently doing, you’re going to be able to use that time to do bigger and better things.
And that basically means more enjoyment and satisfaction in your life.
So let me take you through my four steps on how to buy back your time as a law firm owner.
#1: Figure out your effective hourly rate
So you might say, “I’m a lawyer, my hourly rate is $400 plus GST per hour.”
That’s great, but it’s not what I mean.
The best way to work this out is to look at the revenue you made last month and divide it by the number of hours you worked.
Say you made $20,000 in revenue last month and you worked 150 hours, then your effective hourly rate is $133.
That is really important to know as we head into step two, which is…
Once you know your effective hourly rate, you know that you can hire someone to do anything that’s worth less than that.
So if we’re looking at an effective hourly rate of $133 an hour, there are a lot of things you can pay someone less than that to do.
And you also know that you should not be doing those things, because you could be earning that $400 an hour instead.
But you also need to figure out those low value tasks that are sucking up the most of your time, so that you can have the biggest impact on your life by taking them off your plate.
The best way to do it is to do a time study.
A time study is where you write down everything you do, both at work and at home, for a week or two. Two weeks is better than one, but one is enough if you really don’t want to do it anymore.
It might be a bit tedious, but lawyers are used to recording our time, so this is something we can do, OK?
So write down everything you do and then look at the tasks you’re doing and the value of those tasks, and see whether they could be done by somebody for less than $133 per hour.
What you’ll also see is those low value tasks that are taking up the most time, and you’ll know they’re the ones you should definitely be delegating.
I’ll give you an example.
I did a time study with one of my team members, who felt he didn’t have enough time for everything he needed to do.
He did a time study and we learnt that he was spending around four hours a day doing emails.
I found that really interesting because he has two assistants in his team who could be looking after his email.
I said to him, “You’re spending a lot of time doing emails – do you need to be sending these emails?’
He said “No”, and so straight away we delegated all the emails that he was having to check and write and receive to one of his assistants.
That one decision freed up four hours a day for him.
The reason why I share that example is I know a lot of law firm owners spend a lot of time on email.
In my Scale Up coaching program for entrepreneurial law firm owners, we quite regularly get our Scale Uppers to do a time study for a week and report back on what they learned.
One thing nearly all of them say is they spend too much time on email. So that’s a really good learning.
If you’re spending hours and hours each day emailing, that is probably something you need to stop doing. It’s also something that can be pretty easily delegated as well.
Time studies are such an amazing tool for seeing exactly what you’re doing with your time and how you could use it better.
I try to do a time study once a quarter to see where I’m doing tasks that are too low value for me and to see where I need to be looking to delegate or outsource.
#3: Screen record
I mentioned before that often lawyers tell me they want to delegate more, but it takes so much time.
I know it does, but it’s an investment that’s really worthwhile.
One good way to cut down the time you spend training somebody is to screen record.
Here’s what you do…
Go and do that task yourself first, instead of showing them how to do it or writing instructions for them.
When you do it, record your screen using a software like Loom.
It’ll record everything you’re doing on your screen, and if you want to talk as you’re doing it, it’ll pick that up too.
Then, it’s as simple as giving that video to the person you’re delegating the job to.
The video can also form part of a training process or a manual, so anybody else who needs to do that task in the future has that resource there on how to do it.
But it means you only have to do that job once, and that person can see exactly how to carry out that task in a way that’s much more interesting than following a list of instructions.
#4: Inbox manager
I mentioned before how law firm owners spend a lot of time emailing, which is generally a low value task.
Even if you provide legal advice or important legal information in an email, it doesn’t necessarily need to be written by you.
So look at how you can implement a system with your email where an assistant responds to emails, puts certain emails into folders so that you can read them later, or sets up appointments and other things in your calendar, without you having to think about it.
It’s a really good way to free up many, many hours every week.
If you’re interested in scaling a law firm, or building, designing and selling online legal solutions and learning about how to do the marketing around that, then there’s plenty more for you to discover over in my Savvy Lawyers Facebook group.