By Ally Kennedy, Founder of Amiga Lawyers
Does this sound familiar? Stressing each month about how you are going to make ends meet in your firm, worrying if you can pay your bills and squeeze out some semblance of a salary, and working an unhealthy amount of hours. That was me for the first 2 years as a solo practitioner.
For the first two years of my law firm, I had no idea what was going in and what was going out in terms of finances. I had no clue what my monthly overhead was. I had no idea what was owed on each account. I had no concept of whether my firm was financially viable. I did not mail bills regularly, if at all. I sometimes did not answer the phone because I was too busy.
In sum, wanted to be the associate attorney in my own law firm. I wanted to do the work that I loved. That was my focus. Getting a paycheck was necessary to survive, but I insisted that it not be my obsession. I just cared about doing great work.
After two long years in this battle with my own self, I came to a realization that changed everything: a law firm is a business, so I need to run it like one. As a solo practitioner, I am not only a lawyer… I am the CEO of my law firm. If I want to do the work that I love, I need to be a business-minded lawyer. The work can’t be done if the law firm goes broke. I decided that I needed to get serious and learn what a CEO knows so that way I could create a financially successful law business.
Through studying both legal business and regular business books, I have come up with the 6 Key Roles and Responsibilities as the CEO of your law firm:
In the next 6 weeks, I am going to blog on each of these CEO Roles and Responsibilities in depth. I will identify specific times that I made mistakes or had particular triumphs, and share the tools that I use on a regular basis to keep my firm running smoothly.
For now, it is important to know that each one of these roles and responsibilities is a crucial element toward running a successful law practice. All of the 6 roles must be completed. This means that we have two choices: do it ourselves or hire someone to do the tasks for us. One of the most important lessons I have learned in becoming the CEO of my law firm is that spending money to better the firm must be viewed as an investment instead of a cost. For example, a phone answering service, a virtual assistant, a top of the line scanner, are all investments into making your firm more efficient and profitable.
Remember that becoming the CEO of your law firm is a journey, not a destination. As you continue to grow and change as a practitioner and as a law firm, you will need to tweak and reevaluate many aspects of your firm such as your marketing strategies, client relationship management, and more. You can take tiny steps forward, just one at a time. It is a process of trial, error, and patience. Lean on others for support and guidance. You don’t have to blaze the trail alone.
For more on this topic, check out the Amiga Power Hour: Be the CEO of your Law Firm, which was also presented to the Washington State Bar Association and the American Immigration Lawyers Association Washington chapter. To get even more in depth, check out the Amiga workshop Women, Power, and Money, with a whole session and workbook on "Becoming the CEO of Your Law Firm."
About your Ally in Life, Business and Law:
Alexandra "Ally" Kennedy is a national award-winning attorney and the founder of AMIGA Lawyers and Alexandra Kennedy Immigration Law.. After becoming a mother, and in a matter of 3 months, Ally transformed her practice from earning in pesos to earning 6-figures and she is passionate about teaching attorneys how they can do the same. Ally empowers lawyers to be the CEOs of their law firms with her weekly blog, webinars, and conferences where she teaches step-by-step how to do the work they love while running a profitable legal business. Ally lives outside of Seattle with her partner and their 5 children.