In the fast-paced realm of business, where decisions can often make or break an enterprise, it’s not just financial strategies and market insights that play a pivotal role. Echoing the centuries-old concept from the realms of morality and ethics, the cardinal sins find their way into the modern legal landscape, shaping the dynamics of success and failure. These cardinal sins, transgressions deeply ingrained in human behavior, aren’t confined to the religious sphere alone; they manifest themselves with striking relevance in the world of business.
Just as the original 7 deadly sins have been known to erode moral fabric, the 7 cardinal sins of a law firm owner can gnaw at the very foundation of a firm, affecting its growth, reputation, and overall sustainability. This blog will explore the seven cardinal sins of a law firm owner.
- The more you work, the more you make – WRONG. This goes back to the old adage work smarter, not harder. Law firms that follow systems are process-centric, not people-centric. How many cars would Ford Motor have been able to crank out if it wasn’t for the assembly line? Imagine the head of Ford Motor personally assembling each car part by part. They may have other employees who come in to hand them the tools they need or help them lift the car, but the head person is personally leading and doing it all. Not very efficient right? This isn’t any different than an owner personally doing all of the work from start to finish. Why hire people with exceptional skills and talent to not utilize them to their fullest potential?
- The primary job of an attorney is to produce legal documents. You are the ones meeting with clients to retain their business. In most cases you can’t delegate this to a non-attorney, so why not put your energy and focus in here and hire competent people to do the rest?
- You’ll save money by doing the bookkeeping yourself. On paper, you may save yourself a little bit of money by doing this yourself. What’s the opportunity cost of this time though? If you spent 4 hours on bookkeeping a month, where you’d normally pay a bookkeeper $50/hour, what kind of revenue could you generate in 4 hours vs. saving the $200? Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
- An associate will help lighten my load. Adding an associate should be your last line of workload easing. Before you hire an associate, you need to look at these three things:
- Are you bringing in at least $500,000 in revenue? The Academy’s benchmark for revenue per attorney is $500,000. This means that every full-time (40-hour-a-week) attorney, should be able to generate at least $500,000 in revenue – if you’re not there then you don’t need an associate, you need another support person to take the non-attorney work you are doing off your plate.
- What’s the work I want help with? If you’re meeting the revenue benchmark, you then need to look at what you’d have the new associate do and where they are truly things that only an attorney can do. We have many 1 attorney firms in our Membership bringing in well over $1 Million in revenue. With the attorney focusing on bringing in business, you should be able to create a strong support team to take care of everything else. Only when you’re truly maxed out on appointment times and you’ve delegated everything you possibly can out, should you look to bring on an associate.
- You reek insecurity. Guess what, common folks can’t tell the difference between the competence of two attorneys. Attorney B could be less competent than Attorney A, but if “B” handles themselves better than “A”, they create a great experience, and they listen, they’ll get picked 9 times out of 10 over Attorney B any day.
- Your prattlin’ gives your prospects a rattlin’. The rule is 80/20 – listen 80% of the time and talk only 20%. This isn’t just a good rule for consultations but also goes for your team members and significant others. If you’re prone to giving your “expert advice” in consultations, you need to register as quickly as you can to come to our all-day consultation training with GuruGanesha Khalsa, founder of Conscious Selling. This is a training like no other and there’s a reason he’s one of the most sought-after sales trainers.
- You don’t make have a marketing plan. Yes, we know. You are flying by the seat of your pants and you are hoping for the best. We get it, you have a lot on your plate and when it’s slow, hey that’s a great time to ramp up your marketing. Guess what? That’s not the best time. Marketing is a 90-day world (or longer) and if you’re busy right now, that means you’re reaping the rewards of whatever you did 90 days ago. If you stop your marketing while you’re busy, 90 days from now you’ll be sitting there baffled as to why no one is beating down the doors to see you. Marketing needs to be happening all the time, even when you’re busy. Put a plan in place (your Practice Building Coach can help you) and stick to it.
Now I have a confession to make…
There are more cardinal sins than this. We’ve been working with attorneys for over 30 years and you better believe there’s 30 years’ worth of sins we’ve seen. In fact, I’ve seen it all. You think your problems are different, but I’m here to break it to you they are not. The good news is, you’re not alone, and the better news is, we can help.
If any one of these resonated with you even just a little bit, then it’s time to talk. There is a better way and we’re ready to guide you to it.
P.S. – Post your biggest cardinal owner sin in the comments below. I’d love to see what challenges you’re facing right now.
Associate Director of Member Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
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