By Ally Kennedy, Founder of AMIGA
There is a hire that every solo and small firm needs but that people rarely ever talk about. I speak throughout the country about practice management and have attended many conferences about the topic, and most of the time we hear about expanding our offices by hiring legal assistants, associate attorneys, and paralegals. I have never heard anyone mention what I now consider to be the most important role in my office: the business manager.
Having a business manager has changed my firm for the better. My firm has become more profitable. I feel a lot less stressed. I get to focus on the aspects of my practice and my business that I like.
Here is why you need a business manager as your next hire:
If you own a law firm, you are the CEO in addition to being a lawyer. Being the CEO of a business comes with many responsibilities above and beyond the legal work that you do. In fact, there are 6 main Roles and Responsibilities as the CEO of your law firm:
When you first start your firm, you are usually the CEO, the lawyer, the legal assistant, the receptionist, and more. It can be incredibly overwhelming, and usually shortly thereafter we decide to hire help. The first hire is usually a legal assistant to help with the legal work that has to get done. As much as it helps, it also adds to the stress and overwhelm because we have to step up our responsibilities as managers. We also have to train the legal assistant, review work, and more.
This also throws out of balance the other CEO Roles and Responsibilities that we have, and we often fit them in when we can but we can’t focus on them. There usually is very little time to prepare and mail bills and receipts, track payments, manage the phones, and more.
As we add people to help with the day-to-day tasks required to do the legal work that your firm does, management becomes more and more overwhelming. You have to manage not just the work that they do, but also their schedules, personnel issues, dress codes, and more. A lot of the management issues are things that we can’t even anticipate before we have staff, which is why it becomes an even bigger challenge as we grow.
Eventually it becomes impossible to do every single CEO Role and Responsibility, in addition to the fact that we simply do not like doing them. That’s where the business manager comes in. And this is why, after you get the support doing the legal work that needs to get done, your next hire should be a business manager.
Here are a few of the tasks that the business manager does in our office:
- Ensures that staff take their mandatory breaks and lunches
- Manages schedules, time clocks, and vacation time
- Implements and enforces the employee policy manual
- Provides training to new hires on office procedures
- Ensures that the training manual is followed
- Serves as a buffer between the attorney and the staff to limit interruptions to the attorney
- Looks for new marketing and business opportunities
- Prepares and mails client bills and ensures timely payments
- Pays all of the firm’s bill and manages the financial accounts
- Runs payroll
- Follows up on new leads within the firm
- Ensures everyone in the office returns client contact within 24 hours (many of us need reminding!)
- Provides customer service and is dedicated to client satisfaction
- Accepts payments and runs the online payment system
Note that the business manager does nothing law related. Instead, the role is strictly designed to do business tasks. For a solo who has been doing everything herself, this role is a huge relief. Also, when you realize that it truly is a full-time job, you wonder how you were ever able to make it through without a business manager.
Here are a few resources that we have created since hiring a business manager and that are essential to your law firm:
- Policy Manual
- Employee Performance Review Form
- Employee Warning Notice
- Consultation Tracking Sheet
- Contract Tracking Sheet
- Confidentiality Agreement
- Daily Time Log (AMIGA Freebie!)
- Credit Card Authorization Form
Do you have a business manager? Share how having a business manager has made your firm and your life better.
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.