Bill Fewer Hours, Bring in More Business

law firm marketing, Dan MarkovitzYou need to cut down your billable hours and increase the time you spend on business development. And the only way to do that is to begin delegating your work -- early, often, and effectively, according to blogger Dan Markovitz, who writes the Timeback Management blog.

Billing more time is the way to success for an associate, he says, but increasing your book of business from $2 million to $22 million is the way to success for a partner

The key is learning to delegate, and he offers 5 tips:

1. Get organized. Here's a newsflash: dropping 25 pounds of documents on an associate's desk on Thursday afternoon and asking for an analysis by Friday morning does not qualify as delegation. If you don't know everything that's on your plate and everything that's upcoming, you'll never be able to bring associates on board before the deadline is upon you. Get a handle on all your commitments and deadlines.

2. Define the outcome. What does a successful outcome look like? Smart people don't want to be told how to do their jobs. They want to know where they're going, and they'll figure out how to get there. So paint a clear picture of what the client is going to get when the job is completed successfully.

3. Set a timeline. You and your associates will do a lot better if you both know what the next step is and, more importantly, when it's due. People are often uncomfortable with delegation because they're afraid they'll forget about the matter in question -- out of sight, out of mind, and all that. But if you and your associates commit to a date and time for the next meeting, and have clearly defined deliverables, it won't slip your mind. Or hers. Worried that she'll forget? Make calendar reminder for you to call her a day or two before the meeting just to ensure she's on schedule.

4. Start early. A lawyer I know corrals an associate as soon as he gets a call from the client that will result in work. That enables the associate to learn everything from the beginning, without wasting anyone's time in getting him up to speed later. Even better, he develops a real sense of ownership in the client matter, which makes him more committed to the outcome.

5. Use all your resources. Are you still redlining briefs and memos? Doing it once or twice so that the associate understands what you want is fine. But after that, he should be going to a senior associate for help, and only coming to you for the final review. That's part of why the senior associates are getting paid. Your job is to make sure the final product is up to your standards; it's not to make the same corrections over and over again.


These are all good points.  From my viewpoint, lawyers must view time spend on business development as the equivalent of billing hours. I advise my law firm clients that lawyers spend a minimum of 200 hours a year on business development.  That works out to 4 hours per week, which is an easy goal to achieve.

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