In a recent series of virtual PILMMA Mastermind Meetings I couldn’t help but notice that many of our Masterminds were raising the same question: When do I need to hire an Office Manager? This is a great question and since so many of our Masterminds are asking this question, I thought it would be helpful to cover this topic in a blog.
The quick answer to when you should hire an office manager is this: It depends on the size of your firm and to some extent on how organized your firm is already. Meaning, if you already have strong and detailed policies and systems in place that streamline internal workings of the firm, you can probably wait a little longer to hire an office manager than if you do not have these measures in place.
Throughout the years of growing my own firms and helping other lawyers grow theirs, I’ve observed the following general rule: Most firms probably need to hire an Office Manager once they have between 20 and 25 employees. Realistically, by the time your firm gets to this size, there are just too many administrative tasks that need to get done regularly and the tasks are too time consuming for other employees to be working on them catch as catch can, between their other responsibilities. And at this stage, you need to take administrative tasks off your plate so you can deal more concertedly with your firm’s big picture.
To help decide whether your firm is ready for an office manager, it helps to think about the various tasks an Office Manager typically handles. What does a law firm office manager do? They are usually placed in charge of the following:
- All human resources- including maintaining employee records, assisting with hiring, tracking, and overseeing staff sick, vacation, and flex time, dealing with employee issues and office drama, etc.
- Facility Management- Ordering Office Supplies, coordinating equipment installation and servicing, overseeing the kitchen, coordinating the use of conference rooms and facilities, etc.
- Organize Meetings, and Company Gatherings, Events and Conferences
- Supervise and Monitor Staff Workflow and quality
- Help in Implementing and Maintaining Firm Policies, Procedures and Systems
- Mange the Firm’s Database
- Work with the Bookkeeping or Accounting Staff or Outsourced Personnel to ensure budgets are in place and followed, etc.
A sure-fire way to determine if your firm needs to hire an Office Manager is if you realize your critical Team Leadership is spending significant time working on the activities outlined above, to the detriment of their own job duties. IF so, it’s definitely time to bring in an office manager. If you are also used to handling many of these responsibilities yourself and find that you are routinely having to stay at your office working past 5pm, then it’s also time to get an Office Manager.
Many firms are reluctant to take the plunge and hire an office manager, thinking that somehow the work keeps getting done- But once you have 20-25 employees, all these administrative tasks start to really add up. They inevitably take your staff away form the income producing work that they need to be doing , or you are spending far too much time handling things matters on your own, when your time would be better spent working “on” your law practice.
In conclusion, I suggest you ask yourself these three questions:
- Do I have over 20 Employees?
- Is my leadership staff spending more than 10-15 percent of their time managing administrative work?
- Am I routinely staying later and later at the office in order to take care of administrative tasks that could be delegated to an office manager?
If you answer yes to at least 2 out of 3 of these questions, then it’s time to hire an Office Manager. Once you have done so, your staff can focus on the money-making work they need to do, and you can focus on shaping the vision for your firm’s growth and success that will allow you to take your firm to the next level.