Guest Blogger: Allison C. Williams, Esq.
A few months ago, one of our 66-Day Law Firm Turnaround clients mentioned that she was working with a “systems coach.” Our immediate response was…TELL US MORE!! We’ve been looking for a systems coach to partner with!! After conducting a power partner meeting with Allison Williams of Law Firm Mentor, I knew immediately that she has created a unique model that many of the law firms we’ve worked with over the past 22 years have a huge need for.
It’s rare that we have guest bloggers here, but when Allison and I got to chatting about her company’s systems and her own personal story, we had to have her write a blog—it’s just so in alignment with what we have been shouting from the mountaintops for years. And be sure to read to the bottom…Allison will be hosting Hiring and Empowering Solutions as her guest this coming Wednesday (February 20, 2019) on the Law Firm Mentor Movement Facebook LIVE. We’ll be talking about how to transform your law firm employees into leaders!
So here’s why we are so inspired by Allison and her journey…
When I started my law firm in 2013, I thought I had things all figured out. I crafted a plan using my trusty spreadsheet, gave my notice, rented my office space, and together—with 43 of my then 48 clients—I struck out on my own (with a partner). My secretary was coming with me, so I figured we’d be fine.
Then, “reality” hit the fan. My partner was a nice guy—but a nice guy who had greatly discrepant goals than I did. So, that ended quickly. My secretary, who could barely keep up with me as a super-billing associate, became terrified of what would await her as the lead (and only) assistant to me in the role of chief cook and bottle washer. So, she backed out the week before I left my employment, leaving me staff-less when I started my firm.
As a new solo, I had to run 43 files, take in new files, learn how to manage a trust account, order supplies, clean the kitchen, lease equipment, and—my personal favorite—be my own secretary while running to 16 different courts in my state-wide practice…all while trying to hire my next secretary. I had tens of thousands of dollars coming through my hands daily, and the fear of where it should be spent crippled me into living like a pauper, despite having plenty of money in the bank.
One night, I fell asleep driving 90 miles per hour on my way home, at the end of yet another 90-hour work week. And that was when I realized it. I was either going to kill the chaos in my business or, quite literally, it was going to kill me.
That’s where creating systems to make your law firm run smoothly comes in.
A system is an organized or established procedure, or a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole. Quite simply, it’s a way of doing things that maximizes efficiency, reduces redundancy, and eliminates the need for conscious thought to be summoned for routine tasks, preserving that energy for the higher-order activities that clients actually pay us to provide (such as strategic management, complex negotiation, and multi-layered litigation processes). When people in business follow a system, the office runs smoothly, since crisis intervention is reserved for clients rather than office functioning.
What requires a system? In a nutshell, EVERYTHING requires a system! From how we answer the phones, to how we interface with new clients seeking consultations, to how we close client matters, to how we manage our trust accounts. Even the most mundane, routine activity (like opening and dispensing mail) needs a system.
Generally speaking, law firm owners should consider creating systems for each of the major functions in your law business, including Sales, Marketing, Intake, Communications, People (both employees and vendors), Work Flow (the legal work), Facilities and Money Matters.
Creating systems in law firms is not sexy. It’s not the “stuff” most business owners crave, but it will absolutely and dramatically improve the quality of the law firm and the life of the owner…when executed properly. And, the good news is, if the systems are in a constant state of flux, that means the law firm is growing and evolving steadily.
We couldn’t agree more with Allison and her systemic approach. Join Allison and I this coming Wednesday, February 20, 2019 on the Law Firm Mentor Movement Facebook LIVE. We will be talking about TRANSFORMING YOUR LAW FIRM’S EMPLOYEES INTO LEADERS!
Join us on Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Join Allison and I as we dive into a great conversation about law firm leadership and team development on Wednesday, February 20, 2019, at 12:30pm EST.