Many people are afraid to delegate important tasks to others especially if it’s a job they do well. Often, they feel like no one else can do the work as well as they can. When it comes to delegating work within a law firm, there are more reasons for concern because lawyers have an ethical responsibility to supervise each matter. However, proper delegation is crucial to an efficient and profitable legal practice and lawyers should learn how to do it responsibly.
Why are lawyers afraid to delegate?
Often the fear boils down to either not trusting others to do a good job or worrying that you can’t supervise others properly, so something will fall through the cracks.
What steps can help lessen the fear?
It can be hard for lawyers to trust others, but the first step is to figure out whether the problem is with the individual who would be doing the work (i.e., he/she isn’t capable or responsible) or with the managing lawyer who hasn’t trained the individual properly. Obviously, it’s important to delegate to the right person – someone who has the skills and training to do the job. If you don’t have such a person, you need to find one. Spending the time to retain and train the ap propriate person will be well worth the effort because it will enable you to turn your attention to more important matters.
If you fear delegating because you don’t have the time or a system that allows you to supervise the work of others, then you need to change that. The time it takes to sup ervise others should be much less than if you did the work yourself. That might not be true in the beginning, but as you train good people and set up an appropriate workflow and review process, it should be a significant time-saver.
An effective process for overseeing other people’s work should incorporate the following:
- Outline all work that needs to be done and document any outside deadlines
- Define scope of work to be done by each person involved
- Allocate responsibility for each component of the job
- Provide clear and appropriate instructions
- Establish internal deadlines and priorities
- Communicate how long you think the work should take
- Give enough lead time for everyone (including those reviewing the work)
- Identify who is the go-to person for problems or questions and make sure that person is accessible
- Have a system for keeping track of assignments and notifying others when work is completed
- Get supporting information (including any material that was cited or reviewed in completing the assignment)
Learning to delegate properly is a skill that will help your firm succeed. Although it can seem scary to hand off responsibilities you used to take care of yourself, remember that time is money. If you could be doing more valuable work while someone else is doing other tasks at a lower billable rate than you, it is more profitable and efficient for you to delegate.
In the case of delegating legal work as opposed to administrative work, it’s particularly important to find people with the right qualifications. A legal marketplace can be an effective way to find and vet freelance attorneys to help with legal projects . LAWCLERK™ provides a secure and confidential online platform where you can look for attorneys with the right skill set and the right price for your matter.
Learn more about how LAWCLERK™ works or contact us for a consultation today.