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outsourcing to achieve goals
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A Simple Exercise to Start the New Year

Try Outsourcing to Achieve Your Law Practice’s Goals

By Dina Eisenberg

Many lawyers, maybe even you, decide to start outsourcing without creating a clear strategy. Think carefully about what you want to achieve by asking others to help you be more productive, especially if it is hard for you to let others manage tasks.

Outsourcing Is a Growth Strategy

Reports suggest that lawyers spend up to six hours a day doing nonbillable work. The whole point of outsourcing is to leverage your time. The tasks required to run your law practice (it’s actually a business) get done while you, dear lawyer, spend your time putting that expensive education to good use by practicing law.

Outsourcing allows you to scale your business using other people’s time and knowledge. After all, it makes no sense for you to learn how to [insert the latest marketing craze here] when there is a skilled freelancer who already possesses that knowledge and more experience than you have time to gain.

A Useful Definition of Outsourcing

The word “outsourcing,” unfortunately, tends to have a poor connotation for many. Typically, people associate outsourcing with job loss.

Let me give you a more useful definition of outsourcing: Outsourcing is hiring a virtual assistant or professional outside of your law practice to help you achieve a goal.

Lawyers outsource to independent contractors and freelance professionals all the time, although they may not tell you directly. I recently did an informal study and discovered lawyers like to outsource things at work and at home.

At work, lawyers outsource:

  • Court coverage
  • Brief writing
  • Lead follow-up
  • Bookkeeping
  • Litigation graphics
  • Legal research
  • Social media management

At home, lawyers outsource:

  • Meal preparation
  • Grocery shopping
  • Lawn care
  • Laundry
  • Party planning
  • Housekeeping
  • Gift shopping

Imagine how much time you could recapture if you outsourced just one thing from each list. Not only would you leverage your time, but you may likely get a much better result than if you’d done the task yourself. As we head into the new year, it’s a good time to take something off your plate and experiment with outsourcing.

This Strategy Won’t Work for You

Using outsourcing for growth is a pretty logical strategy unless you have the wrong mindset, which is a risk-averse, only-I-can-assure-things-are-done-properly outlook. You do not have to be involved with every project to ensure things go well. This is not the time to micromanage or recheck every bit of work your virtual assistant does for you. That’s wasteful and crazy-making for all involved.

You don’t have to adopt outsourcing as a way to grow your law practice, but if you don’t, nothing much will change. Without leverage, growth is almost impossible.

And though you may not notice it today or tomorrow, eventually the stress of doing it all will catch up to you.

Before that happens to you, give outsourcing a try.

Exercise: How to Get Started with Your Outsourcing Strategy in Five Minutes

I always suggest taking baby steps because the process and the people will be new to you.

Step No. 1: The Damnit List 

The first step is to identify things that you can start outsourcing. You do that by creating your Dammit List, as in “dammit, I have to do xyz.” It’s easy and takes just five minutes to get a clear picture of where you are spending your time and what tasks you can take off your plate.

  • Grab a piece of paper and divide it into quarters.
  • Label each quarter: Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Quarterly.
  • Set your smartphone’s timer for one minute. Write down everything you do during a day.
  • Next, reset the timer and write down everything you do during the week. You get the picture.
  • Now, make an “X” next to any task that you dread doing. That is the beginning of your list of projects to outsource.
  • Select one that is low-risk yet high-value to begin your outsourcing journey.

Can’t Think of Anything to Outsource Easily?  Here’s One Idea

Update your social media profiles for the new year! Each social platform’s landing page has a header. You know that blue box above your LinkedIn profile? That’s an amazingly useful bit of real estate where you can visually communicate news or simply grab attention by sharing holiday greetings. There are plenty of graphic designers on Upwork to help you affordably update your Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Instagram profile pages (around $40-50). Start there.

Not sure how to communicate the assignments? In “Delegating to Independent Contractors,” Sam Glover has plenty of good tips.

Also read: Outsourcing for Ethics Compliance and Ethically Outsourcing Social Media Management by Megan Zavieh.

As we head into the new year, consider this: Outsourcing could give you the time and energy to grow your law practice in ways you never dreamed of.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Eisenberg Dina Dina Eisenberg

Dina Eisenberg, a lawyer turned award-winning entrepreneur, advises women lawyers on how to transform their law practices from time-starved to worry-free. She is the CEO of OutsourceEasier.com, where she shares her five-step process for designing a sustainable, profitable law practice. Dina’s thought leadership has been featured by Entrepreneur, Inc. and the California Lawyers Association. You can hear her on the ABA Brown Bag, the Resilient Lawyer and Gen Y Lawyer podcasts. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter at @DinaEisenberg.

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