Lawyers Weigh In: What's the Most Challenging Aspect of Running a Law Firm?
No one ever said running a law firm is easy. Here, ten attorneys share the most challenging aspects of their jobs:
“Dealing with people and taking home their problems. You often see people at their worst, but their biggest crises and worst times of their life is your day to day. It is impossible not to feel the stress of your clients’ situations if you truly care. And it is also absolutely impossible to be a good attorney if you don’t care about your clients.” —Scott M. Aaronson, a criminal defense and expungements attorney in Southfield, Michigan
“Hiring quality employees.” —Anthony Castelli, a personal injury lawyer in Cincinnati
“As a solo practitioner, the hardest part has to be the “solo.” After working as an ADA for 18 years in a fairly large office, I was always used to having other lawyers around to chat with, bounce ideas off of, and ask questions. And there were always supervisors to speak with about larger issues. Now it’s all just me. The buck starts and ends on my desk, and that can be difficult at times. It’s also exhilarating—for the first time in my professional career, I have no boss. I make all the decisions in my practice, and there’s really no net. While I certainly miss having my former colleagues around, I’ve found that there is a lot of collegiality and camaraderie in the defense bar which is really great. The future is much more exciting now.” —Glenn Kurtzrock, a criminal defense lawyer in Long Island, New York
“The same as living on planet Earth—dealing with people in a day and age where facts, evidence and logic are not only not appreciated but are almost an endangered species. Oh, and everyone has been told so many times that they DESERVE a low interest rate, they believe and expect it. The selfie generation and its creators are more self absorbed than any in history, mainly because we live in such (historically and relatively speaking) opulent times.” — Roger Austin, an attorney who handles election law, administrative law, real estate law, and general civil law in Gainsville, Florida
“Time management. It is so important to manage your time wisely, to focus on the “Alligator closest to the boat.” It can be tough not to to let daily chores, like email and billing, take up valuable time needed to prepare a client’s matter. —Michael McKneely, a criminal defense attorney in Fresno, California
“The most challenging aspect of running a legal team relates to keeping the team members satisfied, engaged, and working collaboratively. If your teammates are satisfied or dare I say happy, it creates a positive work environment that improves morale, innovation, and work effort. As important as this is, it is very hard to accomplish on an ongoing basis. There can be no substitute for real and meaningful relationships with your work colleagues built on trust and loyalty.” —Marc Lamber, a personal injury attorney in Phoenix
“The most challenging aspect of running a law firm as a solo is working in a professional field where people treat you like a scam artist. There are good and bad professionals in every field, but attorneys are particularly targeted. And maybe those jokes have helped to undermine the fact that lawyers work to earn a living. While we may provide some pro bono services, it is not our primary purpose to work for free. But that is an expectation that has become more and more prevalent. Clients want 24-hour instant access, a win every time, and superior service for pennies. Yet, no client really wants to pay top and fair dollar for the service that they expect. And that challenge is even greater with the plethora of legal access on the internet.” —Pamela Williams Kelly, a lawyer who focuses on issues in family, immigration, entertainment/fashion and probate/wills in Memphis, Tennessee
“I very much enjoy practicing construction law throughout Georgia; however, as the firm grows, my role has expanded to include marketing, human resources, IT, and many other hats. It has taken time to teach myself these areas, and there are bumps and scrapes along the way.” —Mark Cobb, a construction lien lawyer in Georgia
“Realizing that running a law firm is more about business sense than the practice of law. If you’re going to succeed, you must remember that your firm is a business that offers legal services.” —Daniel Hamilton, a criminal defense attorney in Memphis
“The amount of time taken away from my ability to work with clients. It is a delicate balance of delegation. I delegate what I can delegate on the management side so that I have sufficient time to devote to my clients. Fortunately, I have a great team that is capable and trustworthy.” —Aubrey Connatser, who practices family law in Texas
Want to read more? Click here for part 2!