How to Measure Your Law Firm’s Dependency on You
11–13 minutes to read
The American Dream is based on one simple idea: We want freedom.
We want the freedom to do what we want, when we want, how we want, and with whomever we want. For many of us, this draw toward freedom is even more powerful. Those are the particular brave souls who decide to venture out on their own and live out their entrepreneurial dreams.
As a committed law firm owner, you’re included in this camp — but just because you’re in the club doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve gotten everything you’ve hoped for.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does your actual journey mirror the one you originally had in mind?
- How much time are you spending working in, not on, your firm?
- How do your team members feel about working at your firm?
- How do you feel about the team members working at your firm?
- Are you happy?
- Do you feel free?
If you answered anything but a resounding yes to the above questions, it’s time to reevaluate where you and your law firm stand.
Take an objective look at your firm and determine what needs to improve. Are you spending more time reactively putting out fires than you should? Are you getting caught up in small problems that should be handled by someone else? How are you spending time as the visionary driving your business forward?
In this guide, we will address the answers to these questions and so much more. We’re going to help you get to the root of your problems, find solutions to issues plaguing your firm, and assist you in rediscovering your passion for helping others.
- The Reality of Law Firm Dependency
- Your Leadership Team
- Your Law Firm Culture
- Your Law Firm Operations
- Your Focus and Energy
- Taking Your Next Steps Toward Growth
The Reality of Law Firm Dependency
Before finding solutions, you must understand where the pain is coming from.
You started your law firm because you wanted freedom. Yes, you run the law firm. Yes, you are the CEO…
But are you truly free to do what you want?
Do you feel free to focus on growing your firm instead of spending time putting out fires in the office?
Recent studies have revealed that 50 percent of practicing lawyers are experiencing depression and anxiety symptoms, 50 percent tested positive for drinking problems, and 20 percent are considering completely leaving the legal profession because of stress, burnout, and mental health problems. Judging the legal industry solely based on these stats, we’re not off to a great start.
Leaders become slaves to their businesses when they create businesses that are too dependent on them to be successful.
The value of your business is inversely proportional to its dependency on you. So how can you escape this cycle, get the freedom you want, and set your law firm up to run more independently?
The first step is to determine exactly where the dependency is and measure how dependent your law firm is on you. This will tell you what areas you need to offload accountability, hire key team members, and free yourself up as the visionary leader of your law firm.
Read on to learn more about the questions you should ask yourself, how to address them, and how to work toward a better tomorrow within your organization.
Your Leadership Team
Is Your Leadership Team Capable of Running Itself?
As the visionary of your practice, you can’t be everywhere at once — and you’re often needed at the top, removed from the day-to-day to focus on future-proofing your business. That’s where a strong leadership team comes in to assist you in the day-to-day operations of your firm.
Competent leadership is essential to the success of your practice because leaders play a significant role in ensuring each department and each team member operates efficiently and effectively each day. An effective leadership team should be running your law firm’s departments largely independently, freeing you as the owner up for big-picture strategizing and execution. This means they should require little or no daily direction and should smoothly undertake their duties regardless of whether or not you’re present.
The less often you have to be present to answer minor questions and help your team overcome small obstacles, the more often you’ll be able to focus on what really matters: growing your business.
Are Your Team Members Clear on Targets and KPIs?
Everyone in your law firm should know what role they play in terms of the organization’s overall success. If they don’t, you’ve got a big problem on your hands.
Key performance indicators are strategic data used to measure success within an organization. According to KPI.org, this critical data indicates progress toward an intended result. Basically, a KPI is a measurement of progress toward a particular goal, and there are many different things within your organization that can be measured by a KPI. Every one of your team members should know what their specific KPI is and what they need to do in order to achieve them.
But that doesn’t mean it’s your job to manage that communication.
This is where your leadership team comes in. It shouldn’t be up to you to clarify and oversee hitting individual targets for each member of your team, nor should they expect you to.
Your leadership team should be able to successfully communicate individual targets to all team members and departments so that they know what is expected of them. They should also manage regular check-ins with each team member to ensure they are staying on track and asking for support or additional resources when needed. On top of that, they should be able to communicate exactly what is needed to make sure the brand and vision of your law firm shine through in everything they do.
Are Your Leaders Capable of Making Important Decisions?
If you aren’t going to be available to make small decisions within your law firm — because you’ll be busy focusing on the big-picture vision and driving your law firm’s goals forward — you’ve got to be able to trust your leadership team to do that in your place.
Can you really say you trust them with that kind of responsibility?
We’re not just talking about staple orders. We’re talking about hiring, firing, and even spending. Your leadership team should be equipped to make the best decisions for your firm each and every time, ensuring that you can spend more time focused on growing your firm.
Hiring and firing are two of the most important decisions that can be made within your law firm. These functions will ultimately determine how smoothly it will run overall. Take a look:
- When you hire the right team members, you increase productivity, collaboration, and teamwork.
- When you hire the wrong team members, it can negatively impact your firm’s ability to get things done, as well as cause unnecessary and unwanted drama.
This is where having a structured hiring process comes in.
When you have a set hiring process that you use every single time someone new applies for a job, that lowers the possibility of onboarding someone totally wrong for your organization — and creates a repeatable process that your team can manage for you, removing you from much of the decision-making process. On the contrary, your leadership team must clearly understand what trends, behaviors, and misalignment will result in transitioning a team member out of the organization.
Your Law Firm Culture
Just as your vision contributes to the culture of your firm, so do your core values. They are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. They not only help you connect with your ideal clients, but they also help with attracting and retaining the right team members — and powering the culture you create for your law firm.
Studies show that 77 percent of consumers do business with companies that share the same values as they do. That’s why companies like Whole Foods, Delta, and Apple are all frequently visited by millions of like-minded consumers weekly.
As you can see, core values aren’t just posters to be plastered on your office walls. Actively living them out is vital to the overall success of your business. If your leaders aren’t the first people to demonstrate your core values to the rest of your organization, that’s an indicator your law firm is too dependent on you to perpetuate its culture.
In order to keep your values alive in your business, you’ve got to hire, fire, and make decisions 100 percent in alignment with your firm’s core values. Look for people who practice what they preach, because those are the ones you want on your team for the long haul. They will help create an effective workplace culture and ultimately get your law firm where you want it to go.
Your Law Firm Operations
Who Can Team Members Go to For Help?
Every established business should have a clear, structured hierarchy of who oversees whom. As the leader of your law firm, you should not be the one overseeing all of the individual departments, such as marketing, intake, operations, finance, and more. You should be focusing on the legal department — or supporting the attorneys leading that department while you focus on the big decisions that come with being a law firm CEO.
To put it simply, empowering leaders to run each department within your law firm will elevate your business into a much more structured organization. That lessens the law firm’s dependency on you and allows you to focus on what truly matters.
To ensure your law firm doesn’t become too dependent on the owner (AKA you) alone, it must be clear who everyone reports to if a problem arises. As the leader of your law firm, it’s vital that you aren’t answering every question for every person in your office.
The second you start to do that is the second you begin to cultivate an office full of people who can’t think for themselves.
Crisp Founder & CEO Michael Mogill doesn’t believe in an open-door policy for that very reason. If your door is always open, how can you expect to get any work done for yourself? What happens to your organization if you’re always solving other peoples’ problems instead of your own?
Ensure you have a structure in place and that everyone knows where to go and when. This is where an Operator comes into play, making sure that daily problems and procedures are taken care of so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
Are Financial Operations Running Smoothly?
Your law firm’s financial operations cannot grind to a standstill in your absence. By empowering a key person or department to handle your business’s finances, you will be able to ensure that everything continues to run normally, without being solely dependent on you.
As a lawyer, understanding and streamlining the critical tenets of financial management can help put your firm on a solid path to sustainable revenue growth.
Generally, law firm financial management comprises planning, organizing, and controlling all the financial operations of your practice. This includes:
- Tracking and managing bookkeeping
- Invoicing clients
- Managing payroll
- Processing payments of all kinds
- Reconciling credit card charges
- Preparing financial statements
- Business tax matters
As your law firm grows, this will likely not be a job for one person, and it’s certainly not a job for an ambitious law firm owner. You’re likely already dealing with more than your fair share of financial tasks, and that’s why elevating a trusted team who can handle all things money will free up your time in big ways.
Your Focus and Energy
After analyzing the state of your law firm and all the people in it, analyze your capacity as its CEO. If any of the following statements describe you, take it as a warning sign that your firm is too dependent on you and you’re holding yourself back from your full potential.
You manage all of the company metrics (i.e. company dashboards, scorecards, etc.).
- Metrics are essential in gauging how your firm is performing. As a law firm owner, you shouldn’t be tasked with managing all metrics. Instead, the various department heads in your firm should manage the metrics of their department.
You actively manage team member performance day to day.
- The various departments should be tasked with managing team members in their departments and addressing issues of the team members. When you bear the burden of managing your team members daily and addressing their concerns, you may not find time to take on new opportunities.
Your growth opportunities are hindered by operational complexities.
- When you try to handle accountabilities such as daily financial operations, managing major initiatives, and attending to several direct reports, the operational complexities may make it difficult to identify and take advantage of growth opportunities. Ideally, you shouldn’t spend more than 50 percent of your time working in (not on) your firm. You should have ample time for yourself so that you don’t have to put off major projects and initiatives because of limitations to your capacity.
You are the only one with hiring and firing power.
- While you should have some say in who gets hired or fired in your law firm, you shouldn’t be the sole authority who makes those decisions. Preferably, hiring and firing decisions should be handled by the human resource or talent acquisition team, only being escalated to you for final decisions or extreme cases.
Remember, you started this business. You are the leader who had a vision and built an organization in order to see it through. You run your law firm — not the other way around.
If any of the previous statements sound like you, it’s time to make some serious changes.
And we’ve got just the thing…
Taking Your Next Steps Toward Growth
Once you understand how dependent your law firm is on you, you’ll have the information you need to decrease that dependency. Hiring an Operator is a great place to start, but the truth is that there’s still so much more than can and should be done to ensure your law firm’s success.
Luckily for you, joining Crisp Coach is one of the best choices you can make to help yourself, your team, and your law firm.
Apply today to become a part of a closed-door community of the highest performing law firms in the country and get ready to take your practice to the next level. Prepare to finally have everything you need to overcome your biggest barriers to growth alongside hundreds of committed law firm owners looking to do the same.
If you’re truly ready to commit to yourself and reduce your firm’s dependency on you, apply to join Crisp Coach today.
Trust us…You won’t regret this decision.
Now go back to living out your own dream.