How to Interrupt Staff Interruptions

Jeff has lots of legal work to do and he wants to do it during the workday – not on nights and weekends.

He was using the strategies I teach – like blocking the time for his legal work – but he was constantly interrupted by paralegals and staff. So he never got into the flow. He struggled with how to be efficient and keep an “open door” policy for his staff.

Jeff’s problem is a pretty common obstacle to growing a law firm. It’s also a tension that virtually all leaders face. They want to be available, but they also need focus time.

First, we identified the most common interrupters and interruptions. Once we saw the patterns we created guidelines to reduce the number and frequency of questions. This became part of his office operating system.

Next, we adjusted how he was delegating and managing so the staff could have the confidence to work independently – and he had a way to check up on delegated work without micromanaging.

We also provided a path so those really important interruptions got through to him at the right times.

Putting these changes into Jeff’s office operating processes didn’t just make his life easier and more productive. His staff got more confident and productive as well. With just this simple shift.

Having an outside perspective with experience in creating business processes – and who wasn’t neck-deep in the fray – really helped Jeff set the stage to grow his practice.

If you’re having the same problems with staff, start by identifying the patterns and then what things you can do to make it better. And if you’d like help with that, just get in touch.

Doug BrownHow to Interrupt Staff Interruptions
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One Giant Leap To Attorney Productivity Profit

You are building a successful law practice with happy clients.

It’s exactly what you were trying to do.

Except now you have so much going on that it feels like you’re playing “Whack a Mole” all day long.

No matter how hard you try – or how long you work – it feels like you can’t get caught up.

It isn’t like you haven’t tried.

You’ve taken more time management CLEs than you can count.

You’ve downloaded the tip sheets and bought the books.

You might even have paid for courses or programs that promise magical results.

Yet you haven’t yet cracked the code to get more done in less time and escape the time for money trap.

My private coaching clients are trying to solve these same problems.

They know they need a flexible and repeatable system that works for their unique situation. And they need to know where to start.

You might find yourself in the same situation. That’s why I’ve packaged up one of the tools I use for my clients for you to use in your practice. It’s called the 7 Bucket To-Do List | The First Step to Attorney Productivity and Profit. This is a step-by-step guide you can use to finally tame your to-do list.

Just click here to get your copy.

P.S. … By the way, I’m putting the finishing touches on a program to solve the 5 biggest obstacles to growing your law firm. And I want to make sure I didn’t miss anything – so I’d be grateful if you’d tell me what is the biggest thing keeping you from growing your firm. Just leave a comment below – or send me a private message and let me know. And, as a thank you, I’ll answer you back with a tip you can use to breakthrough.

Doug BrownOne Giant Leap To Attorney Productivity Profit
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What Fishing and Legal Marketing Have in Common.

Things business coaches think about when they are fishing: Like how it’s a lot like legal marketing. Tune in to see how. And if you’d like to know more about the system to find your “fish” just send me a message at

If you liked this video please subscribe to my channel, and let’s connect on LinkedIn


Doug BrownWhat Fishing and Legal Marketing Have in Common.
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When Yes Means No …

If you want to make more money in less time then you need to start saying “no” more often. It should be your default answer.

Having “no” as your default answer has some important benefits – especially when you do it in the right way. Benefits include:

  1. Control of your headspace and your energy (and time).
  2. More focus on your high-value opportunities.
  3. Greater effectiveness for you and your team.
  4. Improved relationships and more referrals.

Even when you understand the benefits, it is hard to shift your default to “no” instead of “yes”. That’s because so many professionals have been conditioned to say “yes” almost without thinking.

At one point in your life that may have served you. When you were younger and had limitless energy – searching for direction. Not anymore. What got you to this point in your career won’t necessarily get you to where you want to go.

You only have so many quality hours of critical thinking and high-attention time every day. You know, the kind of mental energy you need to do your job. It’s a matter of will, work ethic, or character. It’s brain science.

The brutal truth is that when you say “yes” to one thing, you are really saying “no” to something else. So you must choose wisely – based on your values and your value as a professional.

And you need to have a system to make this work for you. If you’d like to take the first step check out my guide Saying No Without Being Negative. This guide shows you how to create a Stop Doing List – and it gives you the words you can use to say “no” without missing out. CLICK HERE for your guide.

Doug BrownWhen Yes Means No …
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Escape the Gilded Cage

Joe is a successful lawyer who prides himself on always having the right answer.

No matter how obscure the question, Joe will respond as if he knows – even if he’s not sure, or he’s just winging it. He’s pretty confident so it works most of the time.

On the inside, Joe isn’t quite so sure of himself. He’s really busy being busy – and he feels like it isn’t sustainable.

He’d like to increase his income without working more hours. He’s tried lots of things, but it isn’t coming together. And that brought him to my (virtual) door.

Our conversation rolled around to about his goals for the year – and what he was trying to create long-term.

There was a long pause.

Joe didn’t have an answer. And that surprised him. He was going so fast that he hadn’t thought to slow down and get really clear on where he was going – or why.

Joe’s response is surprisingly common for attorneys.

The pressure to get stuff done and take care of others causes tunnel vision.

In the busyness whatever dreams and goals we may have had back in the day got pushed to the side – or put off entirely.

It’s like being trapped in a gilded cage. We don’t give ourselves the “luxury” of dreaming or imagining.

One of my favorite things about my work as an executive coach is helping people like Joe give themselves permission to dream and set goals.

I help them to see what they are truly capable of achieving. I help them see new ways of thinking and operating and new skills so they can make those goals into reality. To make their own key.

Coaching isn’t for everyone. You have to be willing to learn and take action. You need to value honest feedback from someone who’s been there, who knows you well and wants the best for you – and will always tell you the truth.

If that sounds good to you. If you want to know how to build your own key then just CLICK HERE and let’s talk. We’ll see if coaching might be for you – and whether we’d be a good fit. Either way, you’ll be glad you made the call.

Doug BrownEscape the Gilded Cage
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How to Untangle Your Thoughts to Solve Complex Problems

What do you do when you are trying to solve a problem but your thoughts are tangled up? It can happen when you’re under time pressure and you’re trying to create something new or deal with something that’s really different.

Your brain starts moving really quickly – identifying options and trying to evaluate possible solutions. The next thing you know you’re stopped cold – like when a boat gets a rope wrapped around its propeller shaft. In this video, I share how I get untangled when I’m in this situation. Check it out, and let me know if it’s helpful to you.

Please like and share how you get untangled when you’re stuck.


Doug BrownHow to Untangle Your Thoughts to Solve Complex Problems
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When do you Hire more Attorneys or Staff?

Jessica runs a small and busy law practice in the Midwest. She’s at the point where she needs more help – but she’s not sure how to do it.

I’ve been helping her figure out what she needs and whether to outsource or hire part-time or full-time. It’s a pretty common conversation these days, especially for lawyers who are getting the hang of marketing to ideal clients.

The first step was to make sure her current staff is as productive as possible – which included mapping out what people are doing and how much time they have to do the work they are assigned.

She hadn’t seen the productivity calculation used before.

She thought it was pretty useful.

You might too.

When you’re mapping employee productivity start with 2080 hours.

That’s 52 weeks x 40 hours a week for a full-time employee.

Take 85% of that to get your maximum possible productivity: 1,768 hours (34 hours a week, 6.8 hours in an 8 hour day).

This accounts only for vacation time and regular productivity leakage for things like coffee breaks, arriving, departing, and the like.

You need to factor in that no human can work at maximum productivity all week, every week, for an extended period of time.

So we discount 1,768 by 20%, which is 1,414, or 27.2 hours/week or 5.4 hours a day – on average.

If your regularly scheduled activities – the actual work you need your team to do – is consistently more than this number of hours a week then it’s time to look for help.

The next step is to make sure that the stuff they are doing is a good use of their time. I’ll write more about that next time.

Have a great rest of the week


I will help you scale your practice profitably – so you can work less and make more money.

P.S. … Do you think you might be ready to add capacity to your practice – but you’re not sure what to do, like Jessica.  I can help. For a limited time, I’m offering a 1-hour, 1:1 review session to help increase the chances of making a profitable hire. To claim your spot just CLICK HERE to claim your time.

Doug BrownWhen do you Hire more Attorneys or Staff?
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How to Keep Your Most Valuable Employee

His long-time assistant emailed him just to give him a “heads up” that she wasn’t happy and was looking for another job.

It was shocking.

She is like his “Oz” behind the curtain. She’s been doing a great job for him for more than 10 years – even following him to his new firm. He felt completely blindsided.

A few days later he got another message that she had interviewed and she expected an offer. She would let him know when she got it.

So begins the scramble to save a really important employee in the year of the “great resignation” – and where your competitors are actively trying to poach your people.

The assistant’s decision to look elsewhere is not made out of disloyalty or a lack of gratitude.

It might be about the money. But valued employees generally don’t leave you because of money – as long as they are being paid fairly.

Most employees who leave are looking for:

  1. Growth Opportunities. Top performers want challenges. They want to grow and evolve. If they don’t see a path to grow they will start looking. Don’t count on them to ask you about development opportunities. That conversation needs to be part of your regular (at least quarterly) performance and development conversations.
  2. Appreciation and Recognition. Top performers need recognition. Gone are the days when you should expect your staff to be grateful to have the job. You don’t need to fawn over your employees and they don’t need a sticker every time they do what they are supposed to do. They do need, and deserve, sincere and honest engagement and feedback. You’d be surprised at how far a simple “thank you” will go. Just don’t make it conditional or a precursor to giving them more work.
  3. Reasonable Workload. Top performers don’t mind work. They enjoy being busy – but it’s a fine line between busy and overwork. Especially when they get more because their colleagues can’t carry their weight.

There are many more reasons people leave – including lack of time flexibility and unhealthy work environments. The answer for your team will come from having open and honest conversations with your top performers. To do that you have to have healthy self-awareness and proven strategies so your conversations don’t backfire.

This is just one of the things I do with my private coaching clients. We spend a lot of time working on how to help their staff be productive and anticipate issues. We talk about the words they can use to build rapport and find out what’s really going on – and be a much more effective leader. And I share strategies I’ve used to build a culture of high engagement, performance, retention, and create a high-performance culture – where people feel I spend a lot of time with my private coaching clients helping them learn how to do this effectively.

The work of retaining your best employees doesn’t start on the day you get the “heads up” email. It starts before you hire them – and it continues every day. Which can sound pretty daunting. Especially if you don’t have a system to do it and a guide to help you put the pieces together.

There is too much at stake to ignore this issue or to leave it to trial and error. If you’d like to know how you can get started – without having to become a full-time HR professional, just reach out and let’s talk:


P.S….. These days everyone with employees should be concerned about getting the “heads up” email – or worse – the surprise 2-week notice. If you don’t think it can happen to you – then you’re probably at a higher risk than you think. You don’t have to stay up at night wondering when the next shoe will drop. Send me an email and let’s talk.

Doug BrownHow to Keep Your Most Valuable Employee
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Your Law Practice Swim Lane

My clients are determined to grow their practices. They are often tempted to move into practice areas well outside of their swim lane in search of a different kind of win. In this video, I share a story of one client’s situation and how we approach new opportunities based on what he wanted to create. Enjoy.


Doug BrownYour Law Practice Swim Lane
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One Mistake that Costs Big $$

Mike is a busy criminal defense attorney with a cash flow problem.

He manages to get his bills out mostly on time – most of the time.

But his clients are slow to pay – or they don’t pay at all.

Many of my new clients have a problem like Mike’s because they make the mistake of not having an operating procedure to follow up on their outstanding invoices.

Instead, they try to do it themselves and make it up as they go along. They put it off – because the conversations can be awkward – and then it becomes a crisis when the bank balance gets low.

As a result, they leave thousands – or sometimes tens of thousands – of dollars on the table because, unlike a fine wine, receivables don’t get better with age.

We fixed Mike’s problem by implementing a simple written procedure for his assistant to follow.

The procedure outlined each step in the process when it needed to happen, the words to use, what to do when she got stuck and how to escalate back to Mike at the right time. She also understood when and how to pester Mike so that he got his responsibilities done on time.

This experience showed Mike how important it was to have written procedures to improve efficiency and reduce mistakes and frustration. With my guidance, he went on to learn how to create them quickly and easily as part of his regular workflow. And he got more time to do what he really liked to do – and to achieve his goals.

Every attorney can improve their effectiveness by implementing or improving procedures. It’s not hard to do once you get started – and learn the right way to do it. The time you invest will come back to you many times over.

What’s one thing holding you back from using or improving your office procedures? What would it be like if that problem magically went away?

Here’s a great place to start building procedures, it’s my Guide to Tame Your To Do List.  CLICK HERE for your FREE COPY.

Doug BrownOne Mistake that Costs Big $$
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