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Top Tips to Running a Successful Law Practice

By Jason Beahm on February 10, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

What can we learn from John Cioffi, co-author of "6 Habits of Highly Successful Managers," as it applies to running a successful law practice? Cioffi put together the Six Habits of Highly Successful Managers which is designed to compel you to do the Right Things (good leadership) as well as to do Things Right (good management).

Habit 1 - Set goals all the time

Law firms could certainly benefit from goal setting. If your firm is just drifting along, why not set aside some time to plan for the future. Give your firm a target to aim for.

Habit 2 - Focus on the process, not the plan

This is always good advice. You have to adapt your plans to the situation. If your firm wanted to do more family law business, but high value personal injury cases keep coming your way, it's probably time to adapt your planning process. Cioffi offers five key points to planning:

- Identify the right information

- Engage everyone in collecting the information

- Create successful strategies based upon the information

- Modify the strategies in light of new information

- Do this frequently

Habit 3 - Coach the right people

Choosing the right people for your firm is crucial to the success of the firm. It is your job to: (1) find the right people and (2) coach those people to excellence.

Habit 4 - Serve the right customer

Serving the right customer is crucial. On that point, Cioffi offers five "building blocks" for building the firm around your clients:

- Define a good client

- Create the right strategies for that good client

- Create a sales process to secure and serve your good clients

- Create an operations process to serve your good clients

- Constantly build the culture

Habit 5 - Empower your entire team

When you choose strong employees and give them power, you set them free to benefit the business without interference. When you micromanage them, you stand in their way. You need to set clear goals and clear boundaries for the employees of the firm.

Habit 6 - Do the right things right

In order to do the right things right, Cioffi says that you should focus on the three Cs: clarity to the team, effective communication, and commitment from those affected. He says that on a monthly basis, you should evaluate your achievements with your goals. In addition, brainstorming sessions can be useful when there is a difficulty attaining goals.

An important element of such a system is to compare and manage your actual achievements with your goals. We call this the "plan versus actual" exercise, and it should be done at least monthly.

A second element is team resourcing, a structured type of brain storming used when attaining the goals is in jeopardy. It harnesses the creative and intellectual power of the group while leaving responsibility and accountability to the individual.

Finally, Cioffi says that 5 minute one-on-one meetings, 5 minute once-a-day team meetings are helpful, as are offering firm-wide rewards for meeting goals.

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