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5 Tips for Effective Legal Work Delegation

— March 22, 2021

It’ll likely take some time for you to master legal work delegation. But it’s something you should strive to improve.

Successful law firms are busy, high-energy places. They also attract go-getters who like to do everything their way and to perfection.

But no matter how efficient you are, you’ll eventually need to delegate legal work to one or more associates or staff members so you can focus on key objectives or tasks.

We know, we know – it’s hard to give up control, especially when you’re used to doing everything by yourself. To make this necessity easier, let’s break down five tips you can follow for effective legal work delegation.

New Employee? Give a Small Task to Start

New employees are generally seen as bad choices for delegating important legal work. But there’s a way to tell if your gut feeling is correct or if you’re jumping to conclusions.

Instead of ignoring new employees, who are likely full of energy and eager to help, give a small task and see how well they complete it. Think of this as a kind of test – if they pass with flying colors, delegate more important work and continue to monitor. If they can’t accomplish a simple delegated task, you haven’t wasted much of your time and can look elsewhere.

Choose the Right Person for the Job

Speaking of looking for talent, make sure that any delegated work is given to the right person for the job. Even competent staff won’t be able to complete work they don’t know how to do.

For instance, if the person you’ve tasked with finding a freelance lawyer doesn’t understand legal outsourcing, they’re not the right person for the job. Instead, an associate or staff member who has already hired a freelance lawyer for their previous firm would be a better pick.

Image by Bermix Studio, via
Image by Bermix Studio, via

Similarly, posting positive social media messages is a task for a skilled communicator, not your firm’s main research associate.

Track Time

Chances are that a lot of your precious time is being used on trivial tasks that could all too easily be delegated to the same results. Do yourself a favor and spend a day tracking your time. Anything that you absolutely don’t need to do can likely be delegated, freeing up those minutes for more important objectives or case tasks.

Give Clear Instructions

Whenever you delegate an important job to someone in your firm, you have to make sure you give clear instructions. The instructions you provide will dictate how the work is completed, when it’s finished, and whether anything is missing.

Don’t imagine that the associate you delegated the work to can read your mind. Be extremely clear if you are particular about the details, and don’t be offended if things turn out slightly differently than you imagined if you failed to be specific.

Avoid Micromanagement

Lastly, try to avoid micromanaging your staff and partners as you delegate work. The point of delegating your legal work is to free up your time for other tasks. If you spend that time micromanaging, you’re essentially doing the work anyway. It’s also rattling and frustrating for the person you initially delegated the work to.

It’ll likely take some time for you to master legal work delegation. But it’s something you should strive to improve on, as you’ll save yourself time and energy by delegating unimportant tasks to staff, both of which can be used better elsewhere.

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