When you started your law practice, it was probably like any other startup service business. You do everything, and you don’t have anyone to help you.
At this stage, the first (and simplest) form of leverage you’ve got is a form document. Instead of reinventing the wheel every time you need a contract or memo, you open up a file, and start from a form. It’s one of the first tools lawyers use to save hours in the day.
Two Kinds of Leverage that Actually Make a Difference
There are two points of leverage that can save you a huge amount of time when they’re in sync – people and process.
Lawyers understand people leverage. Getting others to do things that you’d otherwise do yourself.
And when you do that, miraculously you start to get some of your time back.
If you still need to review all the work that other people do, you’ll never free up as much time as you want.
What good is hiring an associate to take work off your plate if a good portion of that work just ends up back on your plate anyway? Yes, you’ve freed yourself up some, at the cost of a host of new things to fill your time. From reviewing someone else’s work (which is never exactly how you’d do it) to managing them as employees.
If you really want to save multiple hours each day and grow your practice, you need to seamlessly integrate people leverage with process leverage.
Most attorneys hire an associate (or paralegal, or assistant) either assuming they know nothing and expecting a long, long training road – or assuming they know something (and then being disappointed when they see bad habits instilled from the prior employer… who themselves had no training methodology.)
Process leverage means creating a detailed, step-by-step instruction on how you want things done – to meet your exacting quality standards.
By process, I mean painfully detailed. A formal process that employees follow, step by step, to get things done. Even for seemingly trivial tasks like drafting or research.
When you receive work from someone you go through a process in your head. The key is to get as much of that evaluation process as possible out of your head – and onto paper.
The goal? If someone follows this process, you’ll know and they’ll know that they’ve successfully delivered work that meets your quality standards.
Developing and documenting your process takes time at the beginning. But it frees up significantly more time than the traditional approach – either delegating nothing or reviewing everything you delegate.
Process empowers employees. It enables you to carve yet another slice of time from your day for yourself. It allows your business to run without you.
That’s real leverage.