Nancy Mertzel Founder Mertzel Law PLLC

By Nancy J. Mertzel | Founder | Mertzel Law PLLC

As a business owner, I think a lot about profitability. How can I make my intellectual property law practice more profitable and fulfilling while still reserving time for myself, my family, and my communities? I believe the answer is to know my priorities and become effective at delegation. 

Understanding priorities is essential to setting goals for your business. At a recent WOL New York Table Talk, Ivy Slater, of Slater Success, encouraged us to set specific goals, and dig deep to understand why we want to achieve them. Once you do that, you can create a meaningful plan you will want to implement.  Ivy explained her approach as follows: “When your actions are connected to what is important to you in your life, you are driven to take the actions on a consistent basis. This is the key to achieving your goals, and living in success.”

Delegation can be a key component of both profitability and pleasurability. Think about yourself as a firm resource with a limited amount of time available. Take the time to identify the most effective, fulfilling and profitable uses of your time. Is it doing billable legal work, meeting with potential clients, speaking, writing?  Once you know that, you can delegate other tasks, leaving more time and energy available for the things that you are best at and want to do. For example, to help meet my goals for 2020, I recently hired a part-time paralegal and will be outsourcing some administrative and marketing tasks to free up more time for billable work and in-person marketing.

WOL board member Nancy Lanard is the founder of Lanard & Associates, a suburban Philadelphia based firm that specializes in franchise and business law. Nancy has grown her practice from a solo to six attorneys. Nancy sees her primary job as finding work and distributing it to her attorneys. She handles the matters she enjoys most herself and delegates the others to her team.  Nancy knows delegation can be hard for attorneys because we find it difficult to trust that others will do as good a job as we will do. But delegation, whether to a junior lawyer, a paralegal or an assistant, is a critical part of profitability and job satisfaction. “Find your passion, do the things you love, and delegate the rest,” she said.

WOL treasurer Mandy Rosenblum has a solo employment practice based near Philadelphia. While she handles much of her work herself, she outsources some things to professionals who specialize, like information technology. “It’s important to prioritize what is important to the success of your business and to invest in that.” I asked Mandy her thoughts about using software to track details of your practice, like average matter values by practice area. “You can track lots of things about your business, but remember, everything you track takes time.  It’s important to keep in mind the return on the investment and avoid creating unnecessary burdens.”

WOL member Judith Bachman is the founder of The Bachman Law Firm, which handles litigation and business law in New York and New Jersey. Judith started as a solo 25 years ago and now employs two associates and a paralegal. “Hiring people is the single largest factor that transformed my practice from earning a living to building a business.”  Now that she has staff, Judith is responsible for organizing the work, determining priorities, and assigning it to her staff. Every Sunday she prepares a list and circulates it to her team so they know what to focus on during the week. 

There are many components to running a successful practice. Knowing your priorities and delegating effectively are among the keys to success.

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