The teenage years. Just saying the words can strike fear in hearts and minds. They’re years that can be filled with confusion and lows and highs of confidence and emotions. These years include growth, transition, and big, exciting (and sometimes scary) changes. Much like a human adolescent, mid-stage law firm businesses face similar challenges.
Teenage businesses have already made major strides. They’ve identified their ideal client, developed systems and procedures, and set a solid footing. But, once a business is out of start-up mode, what’s next?
Ease Law Firm Growing Pains
Lawyerist Lab coach Karen Graves is an expert in shepherding businesses through their teenage years. She offers five tips to help ease the growing pains for law firm owners navigating these crucial years.
Mid-stage law firm owners often find there isn’t enough time in the day. They already have a full plate between being the decision-maker, running their business, managing their team, meeting with clients, and actually practicing law. There’s a solution. Hire.
At this stage, law firm owners should be operating as the CEO. While “doing it all” may work for law firm owners in the early years, it’s not sustainable. Karen suggests owners take time to reflect on what they love to do and what only they can do. Then, decide how to best spend time and hire a trustworthy team to do the rest.
Slow Down and Get Clarity
According to Karen, slowing down and unplugging can be a powerful exercise. Law firm owners should take a day or a weekend retreat—whatever time is needed—to assess what they are building. This is a time to be brutally honest about where things are great and where they fall short.
Law firm owners should ask themselves:
- What do I really want?
- What am I looking for?
- What’s working and what can improve?
- Where are there holes in processes and systems?
- What areas need support and what does an ideal hire look like?
This honest reflection will help provide much-needed clarity around a firm’s current state and help owners envision an even better future.
Get Uncomfortable and Learn to Let Go
Much like a teenager, a business’s mid-phase is a renewal of identity. Owners are shifting into their new CEO role, which can be a difficult transition. Karen’s advice is to be okay with getting uncomfortable.
Many find it hard to loosen the reins after they’ve built something from nothing. But there is freedom in letting go. Let go of the tasks your team can handle. Let go of doubts. Let go of perfection. As a leader, law firm owners are growing every day. It’s constant, it’s hard, and it’s not always comfortable. But it’s also exciting. As a result, letting go leaves room for more growth.
Give Yourself Grace
Mistakes happen. And like a teenager, mid-stage business owners are learning as they go. This is a time full of new experiences and new understanding. Law firm owners should remember that this is a stage for rediscovery and to step into a new level of confidence and competence.
Owners will stretch their skills in leadership and communication, compassion, and empathy. They won’t always get it right. But it’s okay to stumble along the way because it’s an opportunity for grace.
Get a Coach
The teenage years are often make-it-or-break-it years for a business. Enlisting the help of a business coach can give owners critical insight into the health of their small law firm. The right coach can offer the proper support and knowledge to guide a law firm owner into the next successful stage of business, including solid long-term vision planning. In addition, the right business coach holds an owner accountable and helps them navigate the different steps and strategies to advance their business.
Lawyerist Lab is our coaching program specifically for solo and small law firm owners. Our coaches help build solid foundations for business systems, so every aspect of a practice runs smoothly. Lawyerist Lab members find the support, encouragement, and advice they need to build a healthier law firm.
Want to learn more from Karen about navigating your firm’s teenage years? Listen to The Lawyerist Podcast Episode #421 Leading Your Firm Through Adolescence.
Last updated February 1st, 2023