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High quality leadership is an essential element for growing a successful law firm.  The mindset and skillset for effective leadership is dynamic – and must evolve as your law firm grows. The challenges and obstacles you face if you are a trying to reach your first million in revenue are different than if you are generating $5 million or more (This is also one reason PILMMA Mastermind groups are so successful – we have 3 distinct level, and we place each member in their specific group at the level best suited for their stage of law firm growth).

But regardless of the size of your practice and where you are in your growth trajectory, one of the most important issues I see at all levels of management is a tendency for law firm owners and their management team to micromanage their employees. This tendency is counterproductive – and wastes your intellect, energy, and the unique skill set that only you can bring to the table. Your intellect, energy and leadership should be focused on the bigger picture – not mired in micromanagement! Furthermore, if you or your department heads are micromanaging your staff, these employees are not able to develop the skillsets they need to be high-functioning, highly competent self-starters that can really get things done for you and your firm.


  1. When it comes to your Management Team, focus on the results.
  • Give your managers the opportunity to do their job. Your focus should be defining what the end result should look like. By defining the end goal and clarifying expectations, you allow your managers the freedom to decide the best way they are going to get there.  It both encourages them to own the process and allows them to make improvements and innovate.
  1. Clarify key boundaries.
  • While you want to give your employees lots of space to explore and try things, you need to give them a clear indication of the limits of their playing field. This will both reduce your concern about the directions they go in and also reduce their fear that they might step over the line. Scaling your law firm requires implementation of precise and detailed processes and procedures — but that doesn’t mean that your employees can’t provide you with suggestions on how to improve profitability or efficiency. Encourage their suggestions and implement them into your processes where warranted.
  1. Set deadlines and checkpoints.
  • When delegating work, it’s important to clarify exactly when things need to be done and to what level.  Establishing clear deadlines with your department heads and insist they do the same in managing your staff. This will allow everyone to plan work effectively and to ensure timeframes are met.  While I encourage managers to provide buffers to schedules, you shouldn’t create a false sense of urgency that causes undue stress for your employees.
  • It’s also important to establish checkpoints along the way that allow you and your managers to confirm that progress is being made and verify the work is meeting your expectations.  Establish checkpoint or benchmark dates far enough in advance that if there are issues, everyone has enough time for a manager to take corrective action and not risk failure.
  1. Give constructive feedback.
  • Every project is an opportunity for learning — for you, your managers, and your staff. Giving and obtaining feedback along the way is critical. If you or your managers simply take over the task or allow work to be done below standards, you are setting yourself up for problems in the future.  The key to giving feedback is to create the right context, focus on objective and measurable observations, and help employees to create new strategies that would allow them to be more successful in the future. Mistakes become learning opportunities when handled appropriately. Make feedback a frequent and regular occurrence within your firm. You should also obtain feedback from your management team or department heads, and they need to obtain feedback from the staff they manage. Making feedback part of your firm’s normal process also reduces employee fear and anxiety.
  1. Provide support and resources.
  • One of the most important things that a law firm owner or their managers need to do is to provide support and resources so that everyone in the firm can become successful.  This might be as simple as providing a faster computer or a comfortable chair.  It might also include providing training, tools, and third-party services that will allow your management team or staff to complete their jobs. Your job as the law firm owner is to use your power and authority to remove obstacles and roadblocks that are in your employees’ way.
  1. Incorporate learning time.
  • An effective business owner’s key responsibility should be to help everyone on the team grow.  You can’t do this without making investments of time and money.  It’s important to look for opportunities in day-to-day work that will challenge your employees, help them learn new skills, and give them more experiences.
  • This may include adding extra time and budget, so employees have an opportunity to learn. Investing in your staff in this way will provide exceptional returns in the future.

Here’s the bottom line: Micromanaging is a natural tendency. It takes a conscious effort and shift in mindset to change this behavior. By focusing on the above strategies, you will not only empower your employees to be more successful, but you will also make your job (and your management team’s job) much easier.