Running a small law firm or solo practice requires a lot of work. One way to manage your work load and keep your sanity is to delegate tasks to your staff. Obviously one key is to ensure your staff is knowledgeable, trust-worthy and reliable. Another key to delegation is to make sure you are delegating the right tasks. Here are three top things that you should avoid delegating.
Trust Account Management
In most, if not all states, the attorney, and the attorney alone is responsible and accountable for their trust account management and reconciliations. While it may be helpful to use the assistance of someone well-versed in finance, you should absolutely NOT fully delegate the management of your trust account. If issues come up, it is you, not your accountant or book-keeper, who must justify the management practices to the state bar. While most of us dread our reconciliations (there’s a reason we went into the law and not into accounting), it is extremely important you keep on top of your trust account personally.
Some people may disagree but I feel very strongly that you should limit the amount of delegation you do when it comes to client contact. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have your secretary or assistant set up meetings or phone calls, but make sure you are putting in facetime with your clients. If your client has a question, take the time to personally speak to them rather than relaying the answer through someone else. There are two reasons for this: one, relaying questions and answers increases the chance of miscommunication or misunderstanding and two, the more you build relationships with your clients, the more likely that relationship will lead to a future referral. People refer business to people they know and like, not strangers they rarely speak with.
Most marketing efforts can and should be delegated to either staff or an outside company. Like I said before, there’s a reason we became attorneys and it’s not for our extensive background in marketing. However, one aspect of marketing that you shouldn’t delegate is networking. Whether it’s formal networking groups or social networking events, you should appear personally rather than send a staff in your place. When you are networking to build your firm, you want to be personable and memorable. Plus, people want to know your invested in your business. Sending someone in your place to network on behalf of your firm doesn’t should your personal commitment. Because it is extremely difficult to successful delegate networking, you may want to consider being very intentional with which events and groups you choose to network. Now there’s something you can delegate: have your staff research networking groups and events and recommend which ones would be most beneficial for you to attend.
These are obviously three large, time consuming areas that you should avoid delegating but they are extremely important to the success, stability and growth of your firm. Delegating is important but remember to be smart about what tasks you delegate!