Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Better Business for Lawyers in 2013

In spite of your better efforts, it is likely that over your time spent practicing law professionally that you have developed some bad habits. Why not making 2013 the year of breaking bad attorney habits and being better—not just for your clients but for yourself as well?

Bad Lawyer Habit #1: Billing Late

Once a case has closed it is important to bill right away. The more time that goes by the fuzzier everybody’s memories get and the more likely your client is to challenge you on the details of the bill. Because more investigation is going to need to be done into the “meat” of the bill, that bill is more likely to be procrastinated and you are going to have to wait even longer to get paid. By billing on time you increase the likelihood that your bills will be paid quickly and in full!

Bad Lawyer Habit #2: Winging It

It’s okay to not know every single detail of every single client’s existence. You should not, however, be using Google to cram information about the client’s business five minutes before your meeting. Yes, you are busy and you have to juggle lots of different projects. Still, your clients can tell when you do not truly understand their situations. This gets particularly troublesome when you’re dealing with very specific areas of law like business or tax. Take your cues from Partner at King & Spalding, Steven Guynn  Do the leg work (or the click work) well ahead of time so that you understand things on better than a surface level. You’ll have an easier time retaining clients and increase your chances of having a positive outcome.

Bad Lawyer Habit #3: Wasting Time on the Trivial Stuff

One of the worst bad habits you can have as a lawyer is to get caught up in the small stuff too soon. Focus first on the major terms of the contracts and cases that you are working on. Those deserve your undivided attention until you and your client agree that the basic bones look good. Then you can dive into the minutiae. Clients do not like being billed for hours spent on one line item of one section when there are whole sections of their cases that haven’t yet been addressed. Among other things, it makes them want to rush through the rest of the process because they’re afraid of the balance of the final bill.

Bad Lawyer Habit #4: Delegating the Boring Stuff

You’ve worked your way up and now that you finally have people to whom you can delegate the parts of the job you find boring or tedious you might be doing that a little too often. Knowing how to delegate is important. Delegating almost everything doesn’t make you more productive, it actually makes you lazy and uninformed. The more you delegate the details the fewer of them you will truly understand. Instead, delegate only those things you know that you aren’t going to do well or don’t have time to do well yourself.

These are just four bad habits that pretty much every lawyer admits to having at least once in a while. There’s no time like the present to break them!

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