Lessons Lawyers can Learn From Their Business Colleagues

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October 20, 2023

If you are like most attorneys, you rightfully assume you have a high intelligence quotient highlighted by superior analytical prowess, the ability to reason and think critically. After all, earning a Juris Doctor degree is not exactly easy.  However, there is always an opportunity to learn from others.  Shift your focus to your colleagues in the business world and you just might pick up a few tips, tricks and strategies that help you become a more successful attorney.

Begin by Prioritizing

Your quest to learn from your business colleagues should start with problem-solving.  Prioritize your firm’s current problems from the most challenging and important to those that aren’t nearly as important.  Meet with your firm’s managing partners and other rainmakers to evaluate the priority of your spend reporting, in-house resources and budget control.  

You can overcome such challenges by relying on your business colleagues for motivation.  Start by creating a vision board that details the results you covet.  As an example, a 15% decrease in case management times and a 20% decline in legal spending across the next year constitute fairly reasonable aims.

Take Ownership of the Challenges

Leverage processes along with technologies and it will be that much easier to achieve the aims detailed on your vision board.  The best business leaders create workplace cultures characterized by irreverence for convention. Reinforce the importance of innovation, push your team to solve your most challenging problems in a creative manner and you’ll make meaningful progress in due time.

Above all, your team should wholeheartedly embrace these pressing challenges.  Find ways to eliminate paperwork and unnecessary or repetitive administrative tasks and your personnel will be liberated to solve comparably complex problems.

Recognize There is Always Room for Improvement

No law firm or attorney is infallible.  If you are to learn from your business colleagues, you must focus on specific areas for improvement.  In particular, the implementation of metrics commonly used in the business world will help you gauge progress in a manner similar to that of the world’s most successful corporations.  Though some comparably large law firms have already adopted and thoroughly implemented this strategy, it isn’t used at a high frequency among smaller law firms.  

Encourage your legal operations team to take cues from your business colleagues in terms of implementing metrics that set the stage for obtaining analytical insights and you’ll find that quantitative data evaluation really does help propel your law firm to new heights.  A data-driven approach to legal operations arms your team with the quantitative data necessary to overcome challenges, especially those that plague comparably small legal departments.  Rely on metrics for quantitative insight and it won’t take long for your team to strategically alter operations including your budgeting to make a meaningful impact on the bottom line.

Strive for Success Right off the Bat

The sooner your legal team can make headway in solving the problems highlighted by the managing partners, the more momentum you’ll build toward achieving your targeted aim. Establish reasonable goals that will make a meaningful impact on your bottom line, strive to make headway soon after embarking on these challenges and your team will build the confidence necessary to continue pushing for additional progress.

When in Doubt, Focus on the Numbers

The top business minds are not afraid of crunching numbers. Quantify your firm’s most important problems, establish specific numerical metrics to work toward and your team will have a realistic aim to strive for.  Continue to proactively measure essential metrics moving forward and you’ll have the numbers necessary to quantify ongoing change and move that much closer to achieving your target goals.