If you’re like most lawyers, you just never have enough time in your days and weeks to step back and take the long view of your practice — where it’s going, what’s working well, what’s barely working, and what’s constantly in breakdown. So, because you’re so busy, you live with the “barely,” throw a quick fix at the breakdowns and burn the midnight oil to move your work.
If that kind of practice is OK with you, congratulations, and welcome to heart attack city.
But if it’s not, maybe you need to make time for taking that long view, with the goal of increasing your efficiency (and capacity), smoothing out the wrinkles and moving out of heart attack city.
So here is a place to start. Ask yourself:
Am I truly satisfied with everything — my team, my clients, my marketing and my personal income?
If all isn’t perfect, what are your sore points? It’s time for a quiz to help you home in.
Take This Quiz (Be Honest)
Circle one number in each of the four groups below, then add up the numbers. Be honest with yourself here. No one is looking over your shoulder.
5 I have a great team that I can trust and delegate to, which allows me to deliver great client service.
4 I have a great team that I can trust but they’re overwhelmed, so I can’t always delegate, and work doesn’t always get done on time.
3 My team is adequate but work gets backed up, and I often have to make excuses to unhappy clients.
2 My team isn’t adequate in skills/capacity to support my practice growth, and at the end of the day I have to get it done.
1 I don’t really have a team. It’s all me, 24/7. Really.
5 I love my clients. I have a full book of A’s and B’s who are good to work with and pay their bills.
4 I’m pretty busy and most of my clients are A’s and B’s, but I have a few too many that are miserable to work with and don’t pay promptly or at all.
3 I wish I had more clients, especially good ones. Mine are OK but cause me too much stress and I sometimes have problems getting them to pay.
2 I’m just not where I want to be with the quality and quantity of clients. I’m not making enough money and am stressed and frustrated a lot.
1 I’ve got lots of time on my hands. Somebody please send me some clients!
5 My marketing is great. I have more terrific clients than I can handle and I’m not spending a lot to get them.
4 My marketing is OK. I need to spend more time on it, but I’m too busy to do it, and that makes me worry about tomorrow.
3 My marketing is kind of haphazard and I wish I could get more clients, especially referrals.
2 My marketing is less than it should be, and the quality and quantity of my clients isn’t where I want it to be, and my income shows it.
1 Marketing? No idea what to do. I just live with what shows up.
5 I’m happy as a clam. I’m making more than I ever dreamed.
4 I’m pretty satisfied with my income but would love to make more.
3 I’m doing OK but it’s less than I want, and I have too many personal bills.
2 Not so much. Struggling.
1 Income? You mean besides what I make driving for Uber?
Get on Track to a Successful Practice and Happier Life
So, what did you score? If it was 16 or less, you’re way off track for the future you want.
Over nearly 30 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of lawyers who scored less than 16 (and some who scored 20 but wanted more) to get them to 20 and beyond. Last year I summarized that experience in a series of articles to help lawyers build outstanding practices — and “Why Lawyers Really Struggle with Work-Life Balance” was rated one of the top 10 most-read articles here. Attorney at Work has created an e-guide based on the series, called “Six Steps to a Successful Practice and a Happier Life,” that you can download here:
The crux of the matter is that successful lawyers learn new ways to operate their firms so they can keep building their practices while having (or recovering) a life.
The six steps you’ll delve into in the e-guide are all about that — laying a foundation of great business practices so you can stop struggling over revenue as the stress continues to mount, and instead, prosper both professionally and personally. Download it today and get going.
And of course, if you have unanswered questions or need advice on how to work through the six steps, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Always happy to offer my advice.