A wise man once said that “many people are like the boatman – they row, but with their back at the future.”
And in the case of managing a law firm, this couldn’t be more true. As attorneys, we often trudge forward, our eyes on the next client, the next case or collecting the next fee… maintaining… staying afloat, but never looking forward to the bigger picture that the future holds.
A future where we no longer have to micro-manage our office because it does what it’s supposed to do whether we’re there or not. A future where our clients are happy with their efficient and effective service and the employees giving that service feel challenged and rewarded in their jobs.
But does such a thing really exist?
On the surface, a successful law practice might just look like an abundance of clients and cases but dig a little deeper and you’ll find that there are systems in place to keep things running the way they should. Systems that streamline workflow and improve productivity. Systems that automate many of the administrative functions so that employees can focus on the more challenging tasks before them. Systems that, when implemented properly, allow your office to grow and thrive, even in a struggling economy.
These systems are what separate the leaders from the rest of the pack because they exchange the need to control for the need to succeed. They not only encapsulate the firm’s mission but they also serve as a roadmap for how to stay on track and achieve those goals.
After all, you’re not just looking to hire new staff… your real desire is to build a reliable and efficient team of qualified personnel. You don’t just want to attract a few new clients… you’d actually like to build a profitable practice that you can service effectively… and what’s more, you’d like to do it all without working 60 hour weeks.
Yes, you’ll still need hard work and perseverance to get there but at the end of the day, a few good systems will give you a much more accurate measure of your success and a clearer vision of how to move forward. Each of these systems answers the basic question for the attorney/entrepreneur: This is how we do things here. This is how our firm operates…consistently and predictably.
The job of every attorney must be to establish systems in every area of the practice and refine them over time.
Instead of ‘rowing with your back to the future’, you’ll know how far you’ve come and more importantly, the distance you still need to travel.
And that’s something even the boatman can appreciate.
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