Every business is in need of effective leadership, and your law firm is no exception.
Even if your practice is just you and one support member, it probably won't be that way forever so you still need to know how to lead. Often, however, lawyers fall short of effective leaders in the workplace, leaving their practices struggling.
1. Improve Your Communication Skills
In order to be an effective leader for your law firm, you must communicate effectively with your team. Everyone in the firm needs to know about important details, even if everyone is just your assistant, and they need to feel as though they are able to contribute to building a high-quality, effective firm. You can do this by communicating what direction you plan on moving the practice over the coming year so your team knows what they should be working towards.
Remember, too, that communication is a two-way street. You can't just talk to your team. You must also listen to them to ensure that they have the tools they need to complete their jobs, the support they need to feel empowered, and the working conditions they need to stay with your practice.
2. Lead By Example
As one of the lawyers in your firm (or perhaps even the only lawyer in your firm), you are a leader in the practice. Everyone is likely going to follow your example. If you dress professionally, other employees in the office will take that extra step to put their best foot forward. If you treat everyone in the office in a professional manner, chances are, other employees will, too. One of the most effective leadership skills you will ever develop is simply example: showing exactly what you expect by performing those actions yourself.
Just because you own the firm, does not mean people will automatically see you as a leader. By showing them how they should act, you will greatly improve your standing in their eyes.
3. Delegate Effectively
There aren't enough hours in the day for you to take on every task in the practice on your own. In many cases, that's why you have support staff: to handle the tasks that you don't have time for or don't have the skills you need to complete. As you improve your leadership skills and you bring more team members into your practice, learn how to delegate effectively. Learn when to let go of a task and let someone else take care of it for you, whether because you're too short on time to handle it or because it's not an area you specialise in. Effective delegation skills can help you become a far better leader as well as helping your practice run more effectively.
4. Encourage Team Input
Every employee in your firm (even if there are only one or two) wants to feel as though their voice is heard and that they are important to the team, and you have the power to make them feel appreciated. Encourage their input and ask for their opinions. Your team may have a clever way of approaching a problem that you have never thought of or a new way of doing tasks that can save you time. Encourage creativity from the members of your team. Often, simply adding another perspective can transform the way you handle your firm or your clients, frequently for the better.