“I’ll just do it myself.”
We are all guilty of saying or thinking this from time to time when in reality we would be better off delegating your law firm projects. Often, lawyers say they would love to delegate more work but it’s just too complex or too important to be delegated. While there is plenty of both in any given legal matter, not everything is as complex and important as it might seem at first. Especially as it relates to the type of work you need accomplished by a virtual associate.
One misperception about delegating or outsourcing law firm projects is that it takes too much time. Since there really is a science and an art of delegation, let’s break down project management and analyze it to see if there’s any truth.
Let’s say that you have an Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment that is due in two weeks. During the next two weeks, you’re also faced with numerous court hearings, depositions, meetings with potential clients and of course a plethora of discovery deadlines. Time management i this scenario is crucial.
In reviewing the Motion for Summary Judgment, and considering your strategy for the opposition, you realize there are a number of issues that will need to be researched. And then of course the opposition will need to be drafted. All in all, you estimate that this work could take anywhere from six to eight hours of time. Looking at your calendar you realize it will be tough to find a large block of time to work on this Opposition during daylight. Realistically, you’re going to end up working late or pulling an all-nighter to get this opposition done if you write it yourself. Effective delegation of your workflow will help you tackle a volume of research.
On the flipside, if you choose to delegate the work to a freelance virtual associate how much of your time is going to be involved in the delegation process? Your delegation skills not only save you time, they eventually can help deliver revenue to your law practice. Let’s look at how the process helps you get there.
It may take you 30 minutes to type out some written instructions and gather the files the virtual associate will need to review. Once a virtual associate reviews this information you may spend another 15 to 30 minutes on the phone or video conference with them to discuss the strategy for the opposition and make sure you’re both on the same page in terms of the scope of work. After this you can go on to handle other client matters such as meeting with new clients, attending court hearings, or handling any other of the tasks that you need to complete in daily life.
Virtual associates are valuable team members. They take your instructions and get to work. You may need to answer a question or two but those will require relatively lesser amounts of your time. Let’s suppose that the virtual associate works eight hours to draft this opposition. Keep in mind that this amount of time can be billed to your client at a reasonable market rate. For small firms, your overall efficiency improves client relationships, and gives you a higher level of billable hours. Plus, this is eight hours of your time that you can put to better use conquering other tasks that also contribute to your bottom line.
When the virtual associate has finished their draft, they’re going to send it to you and you should expect to spend some limited time reviewing and editing the document before it’s finalized. We recommend building in one to two hours into the scope of the project dedicated to reviewing an editing any document produced by a virtual associate. It’s not that you want to invest too much of your time into micromanagement the legal profession is very specific, and you want to be certain the work project representing your law office is accurate and top quality from every team member.
Comparison of Time Savings for Your Law Office
Do It Yourself
6 – 8 Hours
30 minutes to give instructions & documents
TOTAL: 6-8 hours of your time
30 minutes discuss strategy
1-2 hours review and edit
TOTAL: 2-3 hours of your time
Comparison of Value of Billable Work
Do It Yourself
6 – 8 Hours of your time billed at $400/hour
2-3 hours of your time billed at $400/hour
8 hours of freelancer’s time billed at $300/hour
4-5 hours saved you can bill on other files at $400/hour
TOTAL BILLABLE WORK: $2,400 to $3,200
TOTAL BILLABLE WORK: $4,800 to $5,600
What would you do with an extra six hours in your work week saved by freeing up your own time and leveraging the time and talent of remote associates to perform substantive legal work? Whether you’re a big firm in New York with a high volume of projects, or a smaller real estate focused company on the West Coast, outsourcing your law firm projects can help you achieve business milestones previously unobtainable.
Keep in mind knowing who to delegate to is just as important as actually assigning the work. If you haven’t already, take the time to develop a pool of trusted freelancers ultimately makes the process of delegating work much more efficient. Time is certainly a commodity for your law firm. Lost cases, lost clients, and lost time all impact revenue.
One overlooked benefit of delegating your law firm projects is the ability to positively affect current employee burnout. With virtual associates managing smaller projects, your higher level partners can also focus o retention and business development. Over time, delegating responsibly becomes a skillset able to deliver wins in your revenue column.
Embrace Technology to Increase Your Law Firm Profits
Part of successfully delegating work is utilizing technology to improve efficiency. Most recently, we’ve documented how law firms that have embraced technology through the pandemic were more profitable. It’s a simple formula. More quality produced in less time results in better profit margins.
The cost of hiring a traditional law firm associate can be expensive. You can’t just throw a social media post into the queue and expect to find qualified candidates. Which is why delegating can be a real lifeline for a small and medium sized operation. Having the proper structure to support everything from workflow to invoice payments should be part of how you delegate. Specifically, the ability to utilize multiple channels to automate workflow and time tracking of freelance remote associates can now be done through many companies including LAWCLERK.
Other Benefits of Delegating
There are many other benefits of delegating tasks rather than trying to do everything yourself. One such benefit for your law firm is to leverage the talent and expertise of another lawyer. It’s inevitable that over the span of a legal career you will encounter legal issues that are particularly complex and you haven’t dealt with before. In these situations, you can do yourself – and your client – a real favor by leaning on the talent of another skilled lawyer to delegate certain aspects of the work that fall into their wheelhouse.
More and more incredibly talented lawyers are looking for remote attorney jobs, such as freelance writing. These freelance lawyers have a wide variety of backgrounds in many practice areas. The fundamentals of professional development of full time paralegals and other staff members, are less of a necessary investment for freelance lawyers. They tend to be seasoned attorneys how have managed their own cases and their own clients but no longer want to be in a forward-facing role for a multitude of reasons. They’ve completed law school, have built a career, and enjoy focusing on time consuming tasks such as researching, writing, and helping with discovery. Busy attorneys can leverage the time and talent of freelance lawyers by offering remote lawyer jobs on either a project or subscription basis.
Another benefit is the advantage you gain of having a fresh set of eyes on the work. If you have been working on a case for many months or years, there may be a big strategic advantage to collaborating with a freelance lawyer to do some of the substantive legal work. Obtaining a new perspective on the legal issues and strategy via a talented freelance lawyer can bring new life into your case.
Even though most of the work you delegate will likely relate to bigger projects, outsourcing, does not need to be confined to complex work. In some cases, smaller, less time-consuming projects make the best candidates to outsource to talented freelance lawyers. Consider delegating tasks associated with research memos, letters or even blog articles for your law firm website.
Last, but certainly not least, a significant benefit of delegation is your own well-being. When you quit trying to do everything yourself you will suddenly have more time to sleep, exercise and do all of the other non-work things that you enjoy. Remember, delegating is your superpower!
For more on the benefits of delegating your law firm projects check out LAWCLERK’s Ultimate Guide to Legal Outsourcing. And best of luck to you out there. The landscape can be challenging, but incredibly rewarding as well