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Did you know there is more to practicelaw than just forms?  practicelaw is designed to be a repository of resources intended to help your practice.  Similarly, the MSBA’s practiceblawg is a blog for the Association to share with you how the MSBA can help you improve your efficiency and grow your practice.  The MSBA offers members a number of products and services and is always looking for ways to better serve its members and provide greater value.

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Ignore the blonde

by Joe Kaczrowski | Jul 24, 2015

There are many demands on a lawyer's time (and money). There are a number of clichés that may offer some guidance on how best to deploy limited resources, including this old gem, "You have to spend money to make money." But perhaps the wisdom of Russell Crowe offers another option.

Lawyers, and people in general for that matter, often feel they are best equipped to handle a specific task and can achieve the best result. And that may be true. However, devoting your limited resources to one task often means ignoring another valuable undertaking. As the bar scene above illustrates, it may be better to consider totality of your practice along with each task rather than each task independently. 

For example, you may be capable of performing the legal research on a matter, and may feel you will do the best job. Looking only at the task of legal research, doing the work yourself is the best option. However, doing so likely means something else falls by the wayside. Perhaps that's marketing, or maybe meeting a new client. When you step back and also consider the big picture, you may see there is a better way to allocate your limited resources.

One thing for lawyers to consider is whether their time or their money is more valuable or plentiful. A more established attorney may feel less financial pressure and therefore be more willing to pay someone to do some tasks rather than adding to an already full plate. A newer lawyer, on the other hand, may not be as liquid and may have more time to adopt a do-it-yourself approach.

Marketing is one area where the time versus money debate often comes up. If you don't have the time (or interest in doing it yourself), and you have the cash, there are a number of people out there to develop a plan for you and help implement it. On the flip side, if you don't have the funds, or like to do things yourself, there are a number of free or low cost resources out there to help you go that route as well, including the MSBA's Cohort Program.

Larger firms can provide some guidance on this analysis of resource allocation. With any task, firms will look at the projected revenue and weigh that against the billable hour rates of the available attorneys for that task (associate vs. partner, etc.). Similarly, smaller firms and solo practitioners can look to tools like the MSBA Colleague Directory for contract help where the cost of outsourcing the task actually leads to greater overall revenue to the practice. Perhaps it's legal research or drafting a pleading or document, although there is a cost to outsourcing the task, the time saved is then available to the lawyer for more profitable tasks.

There are only so many hours in the day; lawyers, like most people, have a finite amount of money and time, and there are many demands placed on those limited resources. A lawyer should of course not run afoul of any of the Rules of Professional Conduct, but an economic approach to the practice of law can help attorneys maximize the use of very limited resources.