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Ed Poll
  Week of July 22, 2008

It's Not Lawyers and Staff - It's a Firm

A basic business truism is that average managers treat all their employees the same. Great managers discover each individual's unique talents and bring these to the surface. Lawyers, like managers in every profession, trade, and other commercial endeavor, must make every effort to bring out the best in their firm's staff. Failure to do so will cause conflict, disharmony within the firm and, worst of all, poor client relations—the stuff of malpractice actions and bar disciplinary complaints.
Pay attention to your most important asset in the firm, your human capital. It walks out every evening. You need to make sure that it returns in the morning, willing and able to do what's needed for you and your clients. A sure way not to accomplish this is asking for achievements that you are not willing to do yourself or that are beyond your staff's reach because you don't provide them with the necessary resources. That type of behavior creates anger—and an angry law firm is one doomed to failure. It's far better to be open and honest about what your firm needs to achieve, and to work as a team with everyone having the same agenda, using sufficient resources to achieve agreed-upon goals.
Certainly in terms of professional responsibility there are distinctions between a lawyer and an assistant or paralegal, but firms should not use this as a cover for creating artificial barriers. For example, I learned recently of a law firm that indicated it was being investigated for including paralegals along with attorneys on its web site under the category of "attorneys." The problem is not one of giving paralegals public recognition, it's merely a matter of labeling. If you label a category "attorneys," everyone in that category must be an attorney. The solution is not to remove paralegals from the website, it's to create a separate category under the heading of staff—or better yet, separate categories for "paralegals" and "staff."
Including staff on a web site gives clients additional contacts to help them, particularly since these are people who wouldn't expect to issue a bill for the service. Of course, this is only effective if everyone in your office receives client service education training each year. Teaching everyone in your office—including staff and paralegals—the necessary skills to provide better service and enhanced performance to your clients involves them in the financial and organizational life of the firm so that they understand and appreciate their role and look forward to the future. Even something as simple as giving everyone a business card recognizes that they exist and are part of your team. Inclusiveness will produce more harmony for all, increase productivity, and in turn, profitability of the firm. It's not "we" and "they," it's US!

Ed Poll

Ed's Coaching will:
• Put your professional development on the fast track so you are moving up to the next level of success
• Provide you with a confidential sounding board
• Open your eyes to solutions to your challenges that have a proven record of effectiveness
• Partner you with a peer who has walked in your shoes before and acquired the insight and judgment to mentor and guide you
• Have no other agenda than your success
Clients include attorneys, managing partners, executive directors and financial directors at small, mid-size, and large law firms. We have seen many of our clients increase their revenue by five or six figures-that's $50,000 to $400,000 based on reports thus far.
Many of my clients have experienced:
• Increased revenue with long-term strategies for sustainability
• Attainment of partnership level
• Enhanced performance resulting from focused energy and reduced stress
• Feelings of increased control over professional life
• Heightened productivity due to being held accountable and being questioned and challenged
• Objective, situational assistance from one of the country's top coaches and consultants
If you want to be more successful tomorrow, call Ed now!

Ed Poll
Ed Poll

Personal Commentary
As I write this, I'm watching the exciting Tour de France. The Tour still has challenges with the use of performance enhancers. But these are individual (and only 3 this year) aberrations. The athletes recognize that they perform best as a team. Not only does each team have a coach and strategist for racing, each athlete works with a personal coach to achieve their individual best performances. But, it's still always about the team. For example, Mark Cavendish has won 4 sprint stages; after each one, he personally acknowledges the contribution of his team for his success. Lawyers who take the same approach with those in their firms who contribute to their success will have even more success...and a happier place in which to work.
There are two teams in the Tour this team that have an American base. And they are both doing far better than anyone expected...primarily because they are working as teams! It's great to see such success by American cyclists.
Best wishes,
Ed Poll

Ed Poll
Ed Poll

What Readers Are Saying...
"I look at Ed as my business partner now—my once-a-week essential business meeting to take the pulse of my practice. During our one-hour phone conversations, we hash out the larger and smaller business challenges of my law firm. I always come away from those conversations enlarged, challenged, and sometimes even quite shaken, but with the tools necessary to move forward down the path he and I are constantly redefining for me and my firm."
-AL, Northern California

Ed Poll
Ed Poll

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