Tips & Tricks

Best Use of Attorney Time

By Talitha Gray Kozlowski
December 04, 2018

As the head of your law firm, you must constantly make choices about how to prioritize and manage your time. The legal field is competitive, and lawyers need to think about how to use their time in ways that will make their firm more productive and profitable. In fact, in a recent survey, small law firms saw time efficiency as one of the factors contributing to the overall success of their practice. So how can you figure out what is the best use of your time? The key question is whether someone else can do what you are doing.

Can the work be done satisfactorily by others? Lawyers like to think that only they can do certain things, or no one is as good as they are at the job. However, the question is not whether you could do the work better; it’s whether someone else can do satisfactory work. You need to look at their skills and experience to determine whether you can delegate the job to them.

Is there someone better qualified to do the job? No one is good at everything. Depending on the nature of the work to be done, there may be someone else with more experience than you. For example, maybe you have a case that is not in your practice area or you don’t regularly handle that type of matter, but you have someone internally who does, or you can hire a freelance attorney with that experience. If you handle the matter, you will need extra time to get up to speed so it may make sense to hand it to another attorney.

What is the cost of someone else doing the work versus you doing it? Think about how many hours the work will take, how much it costs your practice and the revenue you will make. For example, let’s say you are billing your time at $250 per hour and you could do the work in 10 hours, but an associate can do the work at a much lower billable rate and maybe take a little longer than you. Or you could hire a freelance attorney to do the work at a flat rate, save the cost of overhead, salary and benefits and bill the work at the rate the client would pay for an associate. Which option makes the most sense financially for your firm?

Can you responsibly delegate the work? As an attorney, you have an ethical obligation to supervise the work of others. Many lawyers hesitate to delegate because they fear the work won’t be good enough or something will be missed. Delegating doesn’t mean handing over all responsibility to others. You must exercise control and consider when and how it is appropriate to delegate.

What else can you be doing? If you are spending time on a task that could be done by someone else, you are losing the opportunity to do other more valuable work that can’t be delegated to someone else, such as legal strategy, business development, supervising your law practice or other tasks. This “lost opportunity cost” should always be considered as part of your analysis of how to spend your time.

Running a legal practice means thinking about what is best for your business. Typically, that means focusing your efforts on the things that only you can do and delegating the rest to others.

Using freelance attorneys is a great way to get the highly qualified legal help you need so you can make the best us of your time. LAWCLERK™ provides a secure online legal services marketplace to assist you in finding freelance attorneys with the right skill set at an affordable cost for your matter.

Learn more about how LAWCLERK™ works or contact us for a consultation today.

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