In his book, John Maxwell, a respected author, speaker, and leadership expert, lays out 21 laws that will make you a better leader and help you grow your business. One of those laws is Process.
The main idea behind the Law of Process is that the routines and tasks you make time for each day are what will eventually build the success of both yourself and your business – in your case, that is your practice.
As John writes, “See what a person is doing every day, day after day, and you’ll know who that person is and what he or she is becoming.”
The learning process is ongoing, and every day you become better equipped and more experienced than the day before. You need to consistently learn from your successes and failures and modify your routines as you go along to set yourself up for success.
According to the Law of Process, consistency is critical. Repeatedly performing actions that contribute to your growth as a leader are what will engrain them into your core being.
For lawyers, process is major. It forms a winning pattern (what works and what doesn’t work). The main idea behind the Law of Process is that the routines and tasks you make time for each day are what will eventually build the success of both yourself and your business.
Wind back the clock 20 years or so to when law firms held all the cards.
At that time, clients paid an hourly rate with few complaints, allowing firms to work as they chose, and those clients were loyal. Lawyers specialized right out of law school, and were prepared to work round the clock for a shot at the brass ring of partnership.
What is now known as the “traditional” law firm business model was then the only one, and that model made money. In the decade leading up to the economic downturn, revenues in the legal sector grew steadily every year.
All that has changed. Legal professionals debate if the ‘new normal’ will differ from the ‘old normal’. My belief is an emphatic “Yes” The difference lies a one key word – ‘process’. I agree that process is not the only key but it is paramount to the success of any lawyer or law firm.
In 2003, Ron Freidmann wrote an article titled “When Clients Come Knocking” he said “paying attention to the process [of law practice] seems at least as important as evaluating the ‘outputs’ such as results and costs…. One could even imagine formally analyzing the processes to determine best practices across firms. It seems likely that the firms using better processes will produce better results at a lower cost.”
Whether for good or for bad, the legal industry has changed radically over the past two decades – arguably more so than it had done in the previous century. What is more, the pace of change continues to accelerate as new technologies develop, and client businesses – already ahead of their law firms when it comes to embracing technology and streamlining processes – demand certain efficiencies as a prerequisite for sending work a law firm’s way. The speed of evolution is such that, looking just five years into the future, we can predict more major changes for law firms.
A related signal of process importance is a surge in legal project management. PM is just the beginning. In support of process, lawyers will need data, metrics, analysis, and structure. It must be worthy of note that this only allows for efficiency. Yes, efficiency. You would agree that it doesn’t make sense to have to reinvent steps each time. It is a waste of time. Having documentation that you can use as a tool saves time, energy and resources.
Another reason why process is vital is that it allows for scalability. Just because you know how to draw the right elements together to create the required steps in winning over a client doesn’t mean that your staff or co-workers can always do the same. And if you leave your firm, you take all that knowledge with you.
To grow your team, you have to delegate. If you have a process, you can train people to execute on it. With the right training, staff members can gather the crucial elements needed to weave a strategic plan.
So expect to see far more business and financial analysts working side-by-side with lawyers to collect data, analyze them, and create rational, tested processes as time goes on.
21 Laws of Leadership – John Maxwell