There comes a time in your career when you need to delegate work and supervise other lawyers. If not before, that time comes abruptly when you begin generating more work than you can do by yourself.
You likely were not taught supervisory skills or how to delegate work. So, you are stuck learning “on the job.” Take my word for it, the first few times will be difficult. But, when you start thinking you could actually do the work faster, STOP. I did it and so can you.
To delegate work you must:
- Define the project that needs to be completed and establish a deadline and make sure both are understood by the junior lawyer.
- Make sure the junior lawyer has the training to be able to do his or her work and if not take the time up-front to do the training.
- Provide all the necessary information/documents needed to do the project.
- Have an open door policy so the junior lawyer is comfortable asking questions.
- Ask for periodic reports to make sure the junior lawyer is on track or simply ask how it is going.
- If possible, let the junior lawyer listen to telephone conferences or attend meetings about the project, even if the time is not billable.
- No matter how small the junior lawyer’ portion of the project is, let him or her know that what they are doing really matters.
- Provide feedback both during the project and certainly after it is completed.
- In the feedback use criticism as an opportunity to teach and give praise for work that is well done.
- After the project is completed, ask the junior lawyer what he or she learned from working on the project.