This week in Young, Hungry and Committed, Vivian Sobers, virtual office NYC attorney, talks about how she is getting in the way of her own success.
I have serious control issues.
I know. Shocker!
Recently, I came to the stark realization that I was getting in the way of my own success. Well more aptly stated, my control issues were getting in the way of own success.
This realization did not come in the form of a proverbial “light bulb moment.” Rather, my realization was a slow burn, the product of a very messy and contentious litigation that has been going on in my mind for a while.
How do solo attorneys get in the way of their own success?
My practice is my baby. My fingerprints are all over it, from the surface of the glass conference room table during an initial client consultation to the “justified” text alignment on every Motion to Dismiss and Order to Show Cause. (By the way, I HATE when I receive any document that is not “justified”. I cannot even take it seriously. It looks so sloppy.)
In many ways, my control issues positively contribute to my success. They are the main reasons clients retain me. They manifest themselves in a nuanced attention to detail and zealous (sometimes overzealous) representation. Most of all, my control issues manifest themselves into positive results
The only problem is that I cannot cede any semblance of control in my practice. I micromanage every aspect of every case from its infancy until it reaches the age of majority. Micromanaging takes time. The end result is that I can only take a certain amount of cases. The consequences of my issues outweigh the benefits.
My control issues were affecting my bottom line. And we all know money is an intensely effective motivator.
Back to the slow burn.
1. Invent a new technology that would extend the amount of hours in any given day so I could take more cases; or
2. Hire an intern.
Frankly, option number one seemed more plausible. But, if I wanted to rear my practice from its infancy, I had to choose the greater of two evils.
My new intern started a month ago. I am not going to lie, my control issues have not greatly diminished. But then again, I did not really expect them too.
In a way, training an intern to take over certain day-to-day aspects of your practice is an exercise in training yourself to relinquish control over non-essential tasks.
Let’s be honest, I am not going to hand-off full authority on drafting a 67 page motion for an important case. But, I definitely have been handing off research requests, court filings and some simple summary judgments. The end result is that I have more time available to bill.
One of the best benefits is that I now have a fresh set of eyes and ears. When you are self-employed, it can get lonely. Many days, the best conversations I have are the ones in my head. (At least with those conversations, no one can eavesdrop.) By letting someone into my practice, I can talk through problems with some case law or just vent about my day.
Still, it is slow going. I am not psychologically ready to give an intern tasks that could ultimately affect the outcome of a case. But, every time I delegate something I get a little closer to getting out of my own way. Even if the work product is “not justified.”
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Vivian Sobers is a commercial litigator pursuing a solo law practice right out of law school. She is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Virtual Office Program. Vivian’s weekly blog series “Young, Hungry and Committed” documents the trials and tribulations of a young attorney navigating her way through the challenging world of self-employed legal practice.