What tasks can an attorney delegate to someone else in the law firm?
Delegation can be a challenge when you care deeply about your work. Turning over responsibility for a part of your job requires thinking strategically about the best projects to redirect and trust in your colleagues to deliver quality work. Not all tasks are suitable for delegation, though. Here are some of the best contenders.
Projects that are smaller in scope and complexity
When you’re prioritizing work for delegation, especially if you don’t have the bandwidth to manage it closely, choose smaller projects to hand over. This allows you to continue to focus on larger, more demanding projects.
Projects or tasks that don’t generate revenue
All projects, in some way, generate revenue because they support your firm. However, let’s look at it less philosophically. You can’t bill for doing administrative work. You don’t bill for writing a blog post. There are lots of smaller projects that sustain your firm, but they don’t directly bring in income. These are excellent candidates for delegation.
Tasks that are outside of your skill-set
As an attorney, you have a particular skill-set and it probably isn’t: IT, marketing, bookkeeping, or human resources. That doesn’t mean you can’t be good at those things, but delegating them means that you get those jobs done right the first time by someone who’s professionally trained in those areas. (Leaving you to do what you’re professionally trained to do.)
Tasks you don’t enjoy
Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you always have to. If it’s within reason, there’s nothing wrong with delegating a task that you find stressful or tedious. In fact, it may very well get done more quickly – workers are more productive when they enjoy their projects.
No matter what you decide to delegate, make sure you handle the process in an ethical manner. Under Rules 5.1 and 5.3 of the Model Act, lawyers delegating their work to non-lawyers must make “reasonable efforts” to ensure that the non-lawyer is conducting themselves in a manner that’s “compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer.” If not, you can be held responsible for any misconduct of a subordinate lawyer or non-lawyer if you know it’s occurring and fail to stop it.