How to become a happy lawyer and make more money in the process? Why do we say happy lawyers make more money? Well, happy lawyers do make more money. Once you understand what it is that causes us as lawyers to be happy, it’ll be pretty obvious to you why the net effect helps you make more money. You need to understand that once you do the things that make you happy, then the law firm becomes more profitable. It doesn’t work the other way around. You don’t spend five or ten years of your life doing work that you’re miserable with for clients, make a bunch of money and then wake up one day and say, wow, now I’m happy! No, that’s not the way it works.
The way it works is you build a business. There are seven main parts of every law firm. First part, is having a business plan. You would never do business with someone if you knew they didn’t have a business plan. You’d never get on an airplane with someone that didn’t have a flight plan. You’d never let a doctor operate on you if he or she didn’t have a plan for how they were going to do the things that they do, right? Same goes for a business. You need to have a business plan that addresses your marketing, your sales, your factory, your physical plan, your people, your money and your metrics, your financial controls and, of course, your mindset. Those are your goals.
Once you get those things working in your favor, your law firm has a predictable consistent flow of prospective new clients. This way you never have to be tempted to take business from someone you shouldn’t be taking business from.
You have to create a systematic reliable predictable way of converting prospective clients into paying clients at the right fee. If you do this, you won’t have to be strapped for cash and make risky decisions. At this point, you can get your factory working. Your factory creates a workflow that will deliver to the clients predictably and reliably. The best part is you don’t have to be a slave to your firm! The factory has got to make sure that the right work gets done by the right people in the right way.
The fourth part is the physical plant. You’ve got to make sure that all of the people that are working on your team, whether they’re in-house full time or part-time or virtual have everything they need. They need the right resources, the right surroundings,the right instructions, etc. A big part of the physical plant are your policies and procedures, your written instructions for how you want things done. When you’ve got that in place now your factory is under control which leads to the people. Every law firm, your law firm, my law firm (when I had one), has a receptionist, a secretary, a paralegal, an associate, a (rainmaker), a manager, a chief operating officer, a chief financial officer, and an owner. Every law firm has these positions on staff even though sometimes some of these positions go vacant.
If you’re all by yourself then you’re doing all of these jobs and you are all of these people. You’ve got to make sure that the right job is being done by the right person. If you get to the end of the week and you realize your cash flow sucks and you’re miserable, you need to take a closer look. What you’ll probably find is that you spent 20 hours that week doing the job a secretary could have done for you. That’s got to get fixed by adding people to your team. Yes, this leads to the financials, the budget, the budget variance report, the cash flow projections but it also brings predictability and control to your law firm. You should know where your revenues are coming from and what your expenses are going to be every week for about the next six weeks. Last but not least is the mindset, the goals. What are your financial goals? What are your personal goals? What are your professional goals? Get all seven of these main parts of your law firm under control and you’ll have more fun, you’ll make more money, you’ll have more control over your time and you’ll be able to be more confident in making decisions. Not only will you be a happier lawyer but your firm will be a lot more profitable.
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