6 habits of really useful practice/office managers - Giles Watson
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6 habits of really useful practice/office managers

Its a wonderful job dealing with calm, grateful clients and relaxed, appreciative practitioners.  Busloads of credit and intrinsics, but with minimal work, responsibility or pressure.


Register now for my workshop “The Really Useful Practice Manager“, Brisbane, May 25.


But what makes a really useful legal practice/office manager? Here are my top 6:


1)  A rock-solid temperament

Yes, there are times when its going to be tough. Really useful practice managers need to be resilient, unflappable – and keep their heads when all around them are losing theirs. They need to hold themselves to higher standards of emotional intelligence than those around them, and yes, sometimes soak up the unfairness and punches without fighting back.

The reward for all this is that you will win people’s trust and respect – and they will then come to you with more of their problems. That’s success!


2) Authority and influence

Practice managers need to develop their own authority quickly: if they don’t, people will seek to sidestep them and go straight to the principal, which to a large extent negates the purpose of a practice manager. Building authority requires demonstrating personal credibility, building trust, being able to influence and persuade, and some leadership skills. The best practice managers move beyond relying on the authority of the principal to get things done.


3) Reliability

Principals need to be able to trust their practice/office managers to do what needs to be done. The more reliable and competent the practice manager, the less stress, worry and distraction for the principal (which is what its all about really). Reliability requires excellent personal organisation and time management skills, and also attention to detail. Lawyers always get hung up on the detail – the best practice managers can be trusted to take care of the detail even better than their principals, so the principals can confidently delegate more responsibility.


4) Business acumen

The best practice managers are strategic as well as just taking care of the operations. Whilst some lawyers have an instinct for business, many would prefer to focus on the lawyering but have trusted colleague/partner to focus on the strategic and business side of things. This means being aware of practice trends and challenges – and having a clear idea of what needs to be done to deliver ever more success.


5) Negotiation and conflict management skills

There will be conflict. With clients, with suppliers, with staff and with principals. The best practice managers can coach the lawyers out of any adversarial instincts to win, to be right or to demonstrate their expertise/integrity. Practice managers are the ones that need to focus on the future, not the past and find a way forward through effective discussion, mediation and negotiation. Blessed are the peacemakers!


6) Initiative

The best practice managers are proactive. They act on their own initiative to identify and solve problems and issues before they become a time-stealing distraction for the principal. They find new ways to add value or save time or stress for the principal. They increase their own value to the principal and practice by winning trust and incrementally assuming more responsibility.


Register now for my workshop “The Really Useful Practice Manager“, Brisbane, May 25.





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