Man watching a clock

Today’s post will cover a critical point that many attorneys struggle with: Keeping regular office hours.

This is an area where less successful lawyers commonly miss the whole point. 

Being successful means understanding the trade-offs that come with success in the first place.

I’ve dealt with tons of attorneys who want to grow their firm to make more money — I mean, who doesn’t? 

The issue, however, is that they don’t understand what larger firms look like. These things take lots of time and energy to build; they don’t just sprout out of nowhere.

Listen, I’m not saying that you need to be at the office from 7 am to 7 pm, seven days a week. What I am saying, though, is that success means having consistent office hours and sticking with them.

I regularly see the following from attorneys who, not coincidentally, are struggling both financially and in the growth of their practice:

  • Not getting to the office at a consistent time
  • Thinking they don’t need to be in the office unless there is something on the calendar
  • Taking excessive time off during the day (whether for long lunches or to run personal errands) and not making it up later
  • Hiring people (and incurring payroll) even though the attorney isn’t putting in a full work week
  • Have employees that aren’t very productive due to a lack of supervision (because disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 billion and $550 billion every year)

The Action Plan for Today

Today’s goal is going to be simple. 

Pick a set time that you’ll arrive at the office each day and have a general time that you’ll work until each day. Yes, it really can be that simple.

Also, understand that if you take any “flex time” at work (such as running a personal errand during the workday), those hours have to be made up later that day.

It’s time to ask yourself:

Why did you start your own firm?

If you did so because you thought it would be great to “set your own schedule,” you need to understand things can go one of two ways:

You can run a very small operation (with the intention of staying small), so you can keep a more flexible schedule.

or…

You can grow your firm.

The latter is the goal for most of us. And that also means implementing more rigid office hours. 

The amount of money you make is going to correlate with how much effort you put in. “Work” is work — that’s why you get paid for it.

I’ve had conversations with attorneys who say that “the phone isn’t ringing and that they aren’t getting clients, yet they don’t create any SEO-focused blog posts or types of content marketing. These same attorneys usually aren’t keeping consistent office hours, and they try to get staff to do the things that they should do themselves. 

This raises two points:

First, these lawyers are paying someone to do work they could be doing themselves. If they aren’t doing anything profitable with that time, it’s effectively throwing money down the drain.

Second, there are plenty of things that could be done even when there isn’t anything on their calendar

It’s easy to put things off when you’re the boss and people aren’t watching over you, but it doesn’t mean you should. This is where the connection between self-discipline and success comes into play. There’s really no other way to say “go to work.

Surprisingly, I’ve got to make this point to attorneys more than you might think.

But that’s it. Today’s action plan is simple. 

Set regular office hours and keep them. While you’re at work, actually do some work.

Want to learn more about running your law firm like a business? Check out this article about scaling your law firm for profitability.