How to Handle Being Pulled Back into Roles You've Delegated 


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Are you someone who has had to step back into a previous role? In this episode, Jim and Tyson discuss the challenges and opportunities that arise when law firm owners have to step back into roles they had previously delegated. 

If you are a law firm owner or work in a management role within the legal field, there may come a time where you will have to step into a role that was once filled by someone you delegated. This means there are a lot of learning curves and adjustments needed in order to do things right. Sometimes, being pulled back into a role is unexpected and will shift priorities because a whole team of people need you to step in and take control.

Tyson shares an example of stepping into a role when another attorney resigned. He learned about issues that existed in some cases that he never would have known if he didnt step into the role. This led to some new processes and protocols being put in place to deal with the issues. Jim says as law firm owners, they need to have a more active role in their team’s day to day operations.

Jim shares the frustration of getting pulled back into a leadership role and not feeling okay with giving the reins to the new person. It can be hard to turn things over to a new leader after doing the work for a few months and ironing out all the kinks. Jim shares his experience with finally cleaning up the intake system for his firm and feeling himself holding back in giving the responsibility to the new manager. Sometimes there is this feeling of wanting to perfect something before you give it away. This can cause you to not get back into your former routine and focus on your main tasks. It is important to trust yourself and the person who has come into the role to take over and lead.

Jim and Tyson talk about decision making and the need to make them quickly, especially if you want things to get done and cases to close at times that are appropriate. Whether the decision is right or wrong, it is important to make the decision so you are not lagging and wasting time. For example, if you need to replace a team member or hire because there is a need, do it now so that worry is dealt with.

Take a listen to learn more!

Jim’s Hack: If you don't have an assistant, you are the assistant. If you are doing all the  lower level work and you are busy, you need to pass it down to other people. It is important to hire virtual assistants or other administrative staff to optimize yourself.

Tyson’s Tip: Treat every hour working out or sleeping as being worth $10,000. That way, you are more likely to focus and prioritize doing it.

Episode Highlights:

  • 3:11 Tyson and Jim share their personal experience of being pulled back into a leadership role
  • 11:00 The frustration and guilt experienced when being dragged back into tasks
  • 17:26 Highlighting the need to make decisions quickly


Transcripts: How to Handle Being Pulled Back into Roles You've Delegated

Speaker 1 (00:00:03) - Run your law firm the right way. The right way. This is the Maximum Lawyer podcast. Podcast. Your hosts, Jim Hacking and Tyson metrics. Let's partner up and maximize your firm. Welcome to the show.

Speaker 2 (00:00:27) - Welcome back to the Maximum Lawyer podcast. I'm Jim Hacking.

Speaker 3 (00:00:31) - And I'm Tyson Metrics.

Speaker 2 (00:00:32) - So I want everyone to think about Al Pacino in Godfather three. And Tyson has a great impersonation of him. So let's hear it.

Speaker 3 (00:00:40) - I don't know if I can pull it off again. They keep pulling me back in.

Speaker 2 (00:00:45) - Exactly. So just when I think that I'm out, they keep pulling me back in.

Speaker 3 (00:00:49) - So by the way, Jim was saying that sarcastically. We're not saying that's a really good impression just so people don't don't expect a really good impression.

Speaker 2 (00:00:59) - So what I'm talking about and what we're talking about is that situation that we find ourselves in as law firm owners, at whatever size we are, where we get used to other people doing a job or a task or filling a role on leadership or some some pretty high level role in the firm.

Speaker 2 (00:01:18) - Maybe it's your first associate, maybe it's your office manager. It can be anybody. But it's it's when you get into that nice, comfortable spot where everything's humming along and then something happens. Somebody quits, somebody leaves, and and you find yourself pulled back in to these roles that you've had in the past, and now you're seeing that maybe they weren't doing things the way you did it. You they might have made it better. You might have to learn how to do something or relearn how to do something. It's just such an interesting time that we haven't really spent a lot of time with or speaking about on this show, that I thought it would make a nice topic for today.

Speaker 3 (00:01:56) - Love the topic. I'm currently in that spot right now. I'm assuming by by you having the topic that you you're doing something similar right now. It's it is one of those things where I actually had convinced myself I was like I was I'd gotten beyond it because it's it's kind of like swimming against a tide and you're.

Speaker 3 (00:02:19) - You've gotten to the gotten to shore and you're like, okay, I'm good. I'm like walking on the sand. And I'm like, walking up towards the beach and I'm good, right? But. And then a big wave comes and drags you right back in, and I feel like I was kind of walking on the sand back up to the beach. And then we had a, you know, we had an attorney resign and we so I'm right now I'm in the I've taken over red team, which is our biggest team. It's got hundreds of cases in it. And because we're it's one of those things where we we had two weeks but we have a we have a long hiring process, you know that. And it's fine. Like everyone's rallied around it. But I think there's a lot of what you're talking about resonated quite a bit where I looked in and like she she was following the process on some things, but like there are certain things that just were not being done the way they're supposed to be being done.

Speaker 3 (00:03:11) - It's supposed to be being done. And but it's what I think is really interesting is about it is, is that I'm able to take those examples and it's actually strengthening the team. So it sucks. It's going to suck for me for the next month or two. That's fine. And I, I told the team it was like, as long as you I'll do this, as long as you'll need me to, okay? I was like, it's like I'm not afraid of work, of working hard. So whatever y'all need, I'm willing to do it. And I just told him like, it's we are sacrificing quite a bit because we're not. The expansion is going to have to take sort of a backseat. We're in the middle of a massive systems migration. Luckily, we've got a systems team that can help manage those things, but that is the that is the benefit of having a lot of, you know, a big team is having people that can kind of fill gaps, but it is what it my the point I was going to make was, was really interesting is, is that I'm able to take the examples of this is not how we do it, like things were being done the wrong way and then show the other teams and they're like, oh, and they're able to learn from it.

Speaker 3 (00:04:14) - And then the team gets strengthened as a result of it. So I think there's a lot of positives that are coming from it. But this is a very timely topic.

Speaker 2 (00:04:21) - It's going to suck for me for a couple of months. That's what you said. And I think that's really where you end up. And the question is, can we build a law firm that can sustain that? I mean, the problem is you don't want to over you don't want to have too many people and you don't want to have people sort of waiting around for someone to leave, but you want to try to build your firm in a way that it can absorb it. Certainly having extra people there and certainly having systems for getting new people up to speed help minimize that. But I think we have to just say out loud the part that you just said out loud, which is it's going to suck for you for a couple of months. And the quickest thing to do, I think, is the most important thing to do early is to say to yourself, this is not going to be like this forever.

Speaker 2 (00:05:04) - And I've I've really enjoyed the benefits of having that person be here. I'm bummed that they're leaving. We are going to make it stronger and better and having me back involved in this particular department. So for me right now, that's intake. Our intake attorney, who was running the department resigned. And so and that was very unexpected. So I find myself back in helping the intake team for a while. And when we're done with this call, I have a meeting with them about what our plan is to sort of put someone else in in that position and sort of transition. And it's I don't want to just jump to solving, solving, solving. I want to acknowledge for everybody that we all go through this and that it is hard and that it is a bummer. And you do feel sort of like someone is taking something from you and it's a loss.

Speaker 3 (00:05:53) - Well, yeah. And I think part of acknowledging this is that, I mean, I went in and and one of the things I've learned from this is that you got to go beyond the, the numbers, got to dig deeper than the KPIs.

Speaker 3 (00:06:07) - And you have to sometimes you have to sometimes be that principal that sits in the back of the classroom and actually monitors the teacher, because what I've, what what I'm realizing is, is that. I wouldn't have learned a lot of the issues with some of these cases if I had not actually gone through the cases, and I think we need to have a more active role. There needs to be another set of eyes that is going through the cases actively. And we've we're putting in we actually have got some protocols that we're going to put into place to help address some of the issues that I'm seeing here. Like, Jim, there are right now in the one team, this is one team, the other teams, they actually are doing fine in discovery. But this one team has 12 cases with discovery overdue, like 12 cases like. That's insane. That is absolutely insane. And like what's interesting is like, we've been able to chop it down. It was more than 12, by the way, but we've been able to chop it down quite a bit.

Speaker 3 (00:07:08) - And I'm happy to say by the end of this week or next week, it'll all be done. But there were like little things that were not just being. It's weird how little things then lead to big things. And I one of the major lessons that I've, I've been trying to convey to the team, and I think that they're getting it is, is that it's not it's not just that the discovery is late. And by the way, for those of you that may be concerned in states with like very strict discovery deadlines, Missouri is fairly loose when it comes to the discovery. There might be a motion compel or whatever if that does happen. But it's it's not like it's going to hurt the clients or anything other than slowing down the case, but it's not. And I think that we can we can take this discovery example, and I think many people can apply it to many other areas of their law firms. So for example, you are late on discovery because you didn't do a couple small things, like there was a set of discovery gym that was all done.

Speaker 3 (00:08:04) - It just had not been sent to the other to the other side. It was 100% done. And so, so not taking that one action. Here's what it leads to, right? Whether it's all being done or not. But you you get an email from opposing counsel that you then have to respond to. So you have to respond to that, that email, that's an additional communication that you're going to take. And then you have to ask for additional time. All right. So let's say you get 14 days 14 days goes by. They send you a golden rule letter. You have to respond to the golden rule letter. Then what happens is, is that they filed a motion to compel. Right. They're filed a motion to compel. And you have to show up to court, right? You show up to court, you get an extension again, you get the extension, and then you finally get the discovery done. But you've taken all these additional actions whenever you if you just would have done the thing at the beginning, you've saved yourself hours.

Speaker 3 (00:08:54) - But because you didn't do that one little thing, you've now cost yourself several hours, which then snowballs into other cases. And and I think that we can apply that same principle to anything, whether it's leads, whether it is, you know, payroll, whatever the whatever it is, I think we can apply that to several different principles.

Speaker 2 (00:09:11) - So that's, that's the interesting part, is that when the boss comes back or the owner comes back and looks around and they notice that things aren't the way that they are, then you have to. I mean, of course, we always say everything comes back to us. Everything's our responsibility. Things are the way they are because of us. So then you ask yourself, well, how did my systems fail that we didn't get that. I didn't know until she left. That discovery was overdue in 12 cases or in our situation, that we had certain cases that were languishing monies back in some casework and that some cases were languishing in the clients were sort of unhappy.

Speaker 2 (00:09:51) - And so then then you have to go back and attack your system. So there's always an opportunity in hardship. There's always a chance to get better. But you do sort of have to say to yourself, hey, what's my role in this? Where was I dropping the ball even before this person left? And and maybe sometimes it's a blessing that they left because it might keep you from committing malpractice.

Speaker 3 (00:10:13) - Yeah. To me, it's my like, actually, that's my favorite part of all this is that I'm saying, okay, we could we could easily shore this up here and we can easily shore this up there like it's there's most of them are actually small. Like pretty small tweaks is what they, they they are for the most part. And I actually think it's, it's actually one of those things to me it's almost refreshing actually. It's like oh okay, cool. Like I get I've got an inside look on this. We can tweak our systems and, and make them a little bit better. But I'm curious, like what you've learned from having to go back and kind of dive back into things like, what are some of the things that you've picked up from it?

Speaker 2 (00:10:49) - Well, I'll get to that in a second.

Speaker 2 (00:10:51) - But I do want to say one thing, and that is this might not surprise you, but I used to get real mad when this would happen, right? Like I used to get real mad.

Speaker 3 (00:11:00) - Really, Jimmy? Get mad, huh?

Speaker 2 (00:11:02) - I know it's hard to believe, but, yeah, you know, I would get mad that I was getting dragged back in. I thought, oh, here I am polishing the silver again. I'm a terrible boss, you know? This is this is my fate in life to have to do. I mean, for you to have to, if it was you to. Do discovery for the rest of my life, or I have to do these days, one 60s at the National Visa Center for the rest of my life, you know? And of course, that's why I loved what you said right out of the boxes. This is going to suck for me for a couple of months because, like you said, you do shored up, you do shored up, and you do, you know, figure out ways.

Speaker 2 (00:11:37) - I mean, the cool thing is, is that your new fresh set of eyes watching how people are doing things around there, and then when they realize that you're there to help, it does build the bond, and it shows that you care and there's lots of benefits to it. But what I've learned, one thing I've learned, in fact it was yesterday, is that. Sometimes I get stuck. So this intake situation. I want to give it to the new person. All fixed, cleaned up and ready to go. And because of that, I'm holding on to it for too long and not giving her the chance to help me fix it. In other words, I want it to be perfect before I hand it off. But sometimes you can't do that. And so because of that, it was sort of holding me back in moving forward because I wanted to give it to her perfectly. And I felt guilty for having to give it to somebody, not perfectly. So we sat down and figured out, you know what? What's Jim going to do? What's mojo going to do? What's Suzy going to do? And and that's sort of what we're what we're doing.

Speaker 3 (00:12:42) - I wonder how much of with what you're talking about is, is that you like I think I think the way that most firms and teams and firms are formed is like, you kind of just you form them and you sort of figure it out like it's. And I wonder if like, it's a lesson that maybe we should go back more often. And because that's the way teams are formed, that we go back and we revisit it to see like more often. Let's look at these a little bit more often to check and see how things are going. That way we can revise things a little bit quicker as opposed to waiting so long. Like we like we probably typically do.

Speaker 2 (00:13:18) - Well, I think that's a I mean, that's a really interesting point, and I think there should be something along those lines because in a different department that I'm not that there's not a sense of urgency. Everybody's still there. Everybody's doing really well. It's our lawsuit department is I've just been I started at the top. Tell me how you do your job from start to finish.

Speaker 2 (00:13:38) - And we have spotted probably between 15 and 20 substantive things that we can do in their workflow to make their life a whole lot better and to make them much more efficient. So, I mean, there's an argument to be made. I think if it's the owner or someone on the leadership team to just go from department to department on a routine basis, almost pretending like somebody left and creating that sense of urgency and that sense of Fix-It ness and let's let's make things better on a routine basis. I think that's, you know, that's probably a really good thing to do. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (00:14:13) - What's it it's really interesting. It's and I, I do I do have a little bit of doubt with what you just proposed and I'm, I think it's a good idea. I think it's the only doubt. You said a little bit of doubt.

Speaker 4 (00:14:25) - Doubt.

Speaker 3 (00:14:25) - Because here's what I was. One of the major things I've learned is, is like people are loving. Like they love seeing me get in and roll my sleeves up and get shit done.

Speaker 3 (00:14:36) - Like I've like, like I've had several messages from teammates, like the team members saying, hey, like, hey, like, this is awesome. Like, like they just love seeing the action like, and things getting done. But I think that it because I think that's like I'm in the trenches with them. But if you're the owner and you come in and you're, you're sitting next to them, my, my worry is a little bit that they're thinking that you are micromanaging them like that. You may hear that term and you're not really it's not what you're doing. But so my I think my advice to people would be like, make sure that it's very clear to them that you're going in there to help improve things. And it's, it's it's more of like an improvement of the firm and not necessarily an improvement of the attorney or the the team. It's to make everyone better. And then that way they don't feel like they're being micromanaged.

Speaker 2 (00:15:26) - Well, I think micromanagement is more about taking over particular cases and telling them, do this, do that.

Speaker 2 (00:15:32) - I think this is more structural. And so I do think one of the reasons people get jazzed about when we come back and sort of fix things is one is that we're the owners so we can cut through a lot of bullshit and just say, just make it. So just make it now. Make it fast, you know? And it's just otherwise they have to like, run it through a committee and talk to all these other people. But when we come back, we can just go, that's dumb. Let's not do that anymore.

Speaker 5 (00:15:56) - Yeah.

Speaker 3 (00:15:57) - Like and there is something we should teach our people to be more, more quick about making decision making and decision about making decisions. Anyway, like what's interesting is like some of the things I'm saying and I wonder how much you see this on your side. It's just like it's the resistance to make a decision where like, it's kind of they're kicking the can down the down the road a little bit on a bunch of these cases, it's just the can was kicked down the road as opposed to picking up the cane and put it in the trash, you know, like like doing something with the can as opposed to kicking it down the road.

Speaker 3 (00:16:27) - So, I mean, are do you see much of that whenever you step into a team? Because that's what I'm seeing with this team.

Speaker 2 (00:16:32) - Well, my friend, this is our curse as law firm owners. Because if your law firm is like my law firm, you have a lot of high fact finders, a lot of high follow through, sort of personally conservative. In other words, they don't like a lot of change. They don't like a lot of mayhem. And so, you know, they want to explore all the possibilities. Their lawyers, their paralegals, their. Detail oriented. So yeah. So yeah, for sure. I see that a lot. And sometimes people tell me this stuff and I'm like, are you are you kidding me? You need you need ten days to do that. I mean, really. Yeah. So for sure.

Speaker 3 (00:17:09) - You know, Alex Ramsey, he was interviewed the other day really was the video was released the other day and he was he was talking about the difference between like like why there were some people that are like, like worth hundreds of millions of dollars and some people that are worth, like, you know, substantially less.

Speaker 3 (00:17:26) - And he's like, well, like a decision like that takes you a month or two to make where you say, I'll make that decision at the end of the week, or I'll make that decision next month, or we'll get this done by next month. I say we're going to do it by the end of the day. Like, and so like I'm working. I'm getting these things done substantially faster. Whenever it's taking you years to get some things done. It's taken me weeks. And I was like, that's a I think that's a really powerful lesson where like just what whether the decisions wrong or not, you'll figure it out pretty quickly. Just make the decision and then keep moving and then empowering your team to do those. And and you know, it's not just our team members either, but like us as well. Like if you need to add another team, add another team, do it now. Stop waiting. Or if you need to replace a team member, replace that team member now.

Speaker 3 (00:18:12) - So when you go in there and you look at these teams, make those decisions now as opposed to waiting a year because you're you're just delaying your success and delaying your progress.

Speaker 2 (00:18:21) - I was just looking up a quote from General Schwarzkopf when placing command, take charge, making decisions is the only way to move forward. Yes, even incorrect decisions. A person who makes a thousand wrong decisions is better off than a person who makes no decisions at all. Because once you make a decision and start action, then you can tweak it and make it better as you go. If you get stuck, you get stuck. And so yeah, I mean, that's that's that's a hard thing. It's just getting that sense of urgency and getting people to move. And every time I slow down, I make less money. Every time I go faster, I make more money.

Speaker 3 (00:18:50) - Go faster, baby. All right. We do need to wrap things up. Anything else? Any final thoughts on this?

Speaker 2 (00:18:54) - No, just other than to tell people, you know, we're all in this together.

Speaker 2 (00:18:58) - We all have this phenomenon. We all experience this sense of loss and sadness when people leave and when we find ourselves having to do things that we thought we were past doing. You know, when you're the owner, you don't want to be doing all this lower level stuff forever, but you also want to take the opportunity that you have to make your firm better. And to do it sort of in a, in an accepting and a happy place.

Speaker 3 (00:19:20) - Love it. All right. Let's wrap things up, Jimbo, before we do, before we get to our tips and our hacks of the week, which are going to be amazing, I'm sure if you don't mind living as a five star review, we would greatly appreciate it. Wherever you get your podcast, if you get something from this podcast, we would love it if you'd help us share the word by giving us a review, please do that. We would greatly appreciate it and then join us in the in the big Facebook group. There's just a lot of great information always being shared.

Speaker 3 (00:19:49) - And if you want to hang out with with us and some other guild members that are amazing, go to Max Law Guild. We just got back from Miami and that was an awesome trip. I loved it down in Miami. I got to see a lot of great guild members. So join us at Max Law Jimmy, what's your hack of the week?

Speaker 2 (00:20:11) - My hack of the week comes straight from that guild mastermind, and that is our friend Brett Trembley came and presented on his book, 24 Months to Freedom. It's all about his theory that if you don't have an assistant, you are the assistant. And you're doing all that sort of lower level work that you need to pass down to other people, I thought he had a really great presentation on the topic of working with Vas, or working with assistants or scaling up and leverage, and I think that it's a nice quick read. You probably read in about two hours. So the next time you're on a flight, just grab the book. I'm sure Brett will send it to you, and you can figure out ways to to optimize yourself and leverage yourself.

Speaker 3 (00:20:48) - Yeah, if you just I think if you go to their website, you can get it for free. So I know you can get the the PDF for free, but I'm sure the physical version too. I know the last time he he presented at Max con, he gave away a free an actual free physical copy of a book of another one he wrote. But that is a good one. You know what? I'm going to go. I'm going to switch mine up. I was going to give it another one. But based on what you just said, I'm going to give. And I posted this in the guild, something Marco Brown said. And I think it came from a book. Someone said it came from a book, but I don't know which book it came from. But treat every hour that you work out and every hour that you sleep is worth $10,000. And he said it's probably worth substantially more than that if you really think about it, probably is. But if you do that, if you if you think about them as being worth $10,000, you're far more likely to do them.

Speaker 3 (00:21:34) - And I mean, I using that, I've actually been focusing more on my sleep. Like my my working out is scheduled, right. That is easy for me. Like that's easy because it's scheduled up. But it's the it's the part where I've got to go to bed at a certain time and forcing myself to do that and viewing it as worth $10,000, far more likely to do it. So thank you, marker for. Sharing that. I thought it was amazing and hopefully people get something from that. But Jimmy, as always super fun. Can't wait to talk to you more today.

Speaker 1 (00:22:04) - Thanks for listening to the Maximum Lawyer podcast. Stay in contact with your hosts and to access more content. Go to Maximum Have a great week and catch you next time.

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