Today I’d like to share a few delegation tips. Outsourcing, or delegating, work is supposed to make your life easier and more efficient, and let you focus on more important matters or things you enjoy doing more. However, failing to properly delegate work often leads to even more headaches and pressure than you started with. Therefore, I encourage you to keep these quick tips in mind when preparing to send work out.
1. Invest appropriate time in your case: We’ve all been there. An emergency lands in your lap, or maybe you’re just overbooked with deadlines and a new case walks in. You have a resource to help you shoulder this, you just have to actually get the work to them. Whatever the case might be, I strongly urge you to at least get an overview of the case or project before passing it along. Simply put, it doesn’t pay to pass the buck here. If you don’t know what’s in your case or at least the broad outlines of where it should go, chances are you’ll still be equally lost when any research or draft comes back to your desk. In reality, shipping out work to an associate, paralegal, research attorney, or ghost writer sight-unseen probably saves you little to no time. More often than not, we find clients who do this end up paying twice for the work, and waiting twice as long for an answer. It’s worth the time getting to know your case the first time around.
2. Give your resource a complete picture: No matter the time-constraints, this is the second part you really need to invest in up front. I can tell you that I’ve never met a mind-reader, so it’s fair to say that even if you get to know the case or project before assigning it out, you can’t count on anyone, no matter how good they are, to catch your brain wave. Now, this is a place where I frequently encounter a lot of push-back form attorneys in a rush. Not because of any issue with a case, project, or theory, but because they simply can’t take the time to orient our team to their way of thinking. The good news is, this doesn’t need to be a dissertation, and it’s not rocket science. Most attorneys I’ve had the pleasure to work with can give a really good, thorough delegation in a one-page Word doc, usually with a paragraph narrating the salient facts and a few bullet-points outlining legal theories. The goal is to give your resource a complete picture of your case, as you see it. This helps eliminate surprises, or the risk of a researcher going down a rabbit hole.
3. Maximize common technology: Maybe you’re the type of attorney who says “but if I wrote it up, I might as well have done it myself.” And maybe that’s true.It’s a hurdle I encounter quite often in what we do here at LegalEase. But really, this is just a factor of folks working in different ways. For some attorneys, life is just too busy to spare enough time to sit a write a case up. Fortunately, a really handy trick we’ve found takes advantage of the technology at our fingertips. You can use your smartphone, tablet, or computer, or even your desk phone, to record a voice memo. Typically, 5 minutes of dictation is more than enough to supply a complete picture. So if you’re not the note-writing type, try dictating a voice memo when delegating work. You might be surprised at how efficient it is. Even if you do prefer to write instructions, this tip can help you when you need to delegate on the go.
Hand-in-hand with voice memos is cloud storage and file sharing. No need to worry about attachments or large files. Just share a link or log in to the appropriate folders. These two tips alone can really make assigning out work a breeze.
If you take these tips to heart and incorporate them into your daily practice, I’m positive you will find they make your life much easier within 30 days. Everyone wants to live the dream of fast, efficient outsourcing. That dream can be your reality. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to try it out.
Christopher D. Schmidt, Esq.