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The Five Highest-Value Tasks for Law Firm Owners

Lawyers are busy.  But if you’re a law firm owner, you’re even busier.

Sure, you have client calls, meetings, depositions, courtroom appearances, and other tasks. But you also have other things to worry about: rent, insurance, payroll for your staff, invoicing, billing, collections, and seemingly countless other tasks that can make working smart vs. working hard feel like a losing battle.

But it doesn’t have to be, according to Christopher Anderson, Esq. former managing partner of a Georgia law firm and a current product manager at LexisNexis.

He says that some tasks are more valuable to law firm owners than others, and that value is not necessarily synonymous with importance.

I categorize tasks by value, not importance. Every task is important, but not everyone carries equal weight on the value ladder. The goal is to quantify the value of your time, not to make judgments about importance.

Anderson makes his case in his new white paper, A Practice Owner’s Hierarchy of Tasks: 12 Things To Stop Doing To Start Driving More Revenue.  In the document, he systematically analyzes the business of law in order to enable attorneys, especially law firm owners, to spend less time on lower-value tasks, and devote instead, more time on higher-value tasks.

The Five High-Value Tasks Defined: How Many are You Completing?

In this white paper, Anderson breaks the tasks that law firms undertake in the course of business, into four categories: 1) low value 2) middle-value 3) high-value for associates, and 4) high-value for owners.

He identifies the five highest value tasks as the following:

  • Marketing and client development
  • Client relationships
  • Strategic planning
  • Strategic management
  • Highest-level legal skills

Getting Them on Your To-Do List

Anderson, who frequently speaks at industry conferences and events, writes that when he presents these high-value tasks, newly minted law firm owners invariably ask this question:  What if none of these tasks are on my to-do list?

He counters that such tasks are always on the to-do list, in fact, they should be part of a business development process, which for an owner, never really ends.

That means almost anything you do to increase the number of people who  a) know what you do, b) know you as someone who is willing to help others, and c) know you do what you say you will do, is a highest-value task.

Do More with Delegation

“Lawyers,” writes Anderson, “and particularly firm owners, are notoriously controlling about taking care of things themselves, often down to the tiniest detail.”

So how can practicing attorneys that own a firm shift from working harder to working smarter?

Three words: Delegate. Delegate. Delegate. And I don’t mean delegate tasks. You don’t have (or shouldn’t take) time to delegate individual tasks. Delegate authority to take care of all those tasks.

How hard would it be for you to follow these principles, and what are some ways you weigh tasks at your practice? Please share in the comments section below!

In the meantime, download and read Anderson’s free whitepaper here: A Practice Owner’s Hierarchy of Tasks: 12 Things To Stop Doing To Start Driving More Revenue.

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About Frank Strong

Frank Strong
Frank Strong is the communications director for the LexisNexis software division located on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. In this capacity, he leads communications efforts in support of software products for law practice and law department management and also litigation tools – across large law, small law and corporate counsel segments. With more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech sector, Strong previously served as director of public relations for Vocus, which developed marketing, PR and media monitoring software. He has held multiple roles both in-house with corporations, ranging from startups to global organizations, and has also endured the rigors of billable hours, having completed gigs at PR firms including the top 10 global firm Hill & Knowlton. A veteran of two year-long deployments, Strong has concurrently served in uniform in reserve components of the military for more than 20 years, initially as an enlisted Marine and later as an infantry officer in the Army National Guard. Strong holds a BA in Film and TV production from Worcester State University, an M.A. in Public Communication from American University, and an M.B.A. from Marymount University. He is a PADI-certified Master Scuba Diver and holds a USPA "B" skydiving license.