Two of the most difficult career paths are running your own business and practicing as a trial lawyer. They both take time, energy, commitment, and exceptional ability in your craft. However, when running your own law firm, you’re tasked with doing both. It can be easy to mismanage the business side or let your abilities as an attorney waiver when one takes control of the other. So how do you balance the two for an exceptional law practice?
In episode 119, Michael Cowen speaks with Sonia Rodriguez, his fellow Partner & Trial Lawyer at Cowen, Rodriguez and Peacock PC about how they run their law firm. On this episode of Trial Lawyer Nation, Michael and Sonia discuss balancing being great lawyers and running a great firm, hiring and coaching decisions, how team building can impact the success of your efforts, taking the right cases at the right time, and much more.
Name: Sonia Rodriguez
About: Sonia Rodriguez is a native of San Antonio. She graduated from Burbank High School then completed undergraduate studies at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. In 1999, Sonia received a Juris Doctorate degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law, in San Antonio, Texas, where she served as an editor and a co-founder of The Scholar: St. Mary’s Law Review on Minority Issues. Since then, Sonia has represented individuals and families who have been injured or have lost loved ones due to the negligence of others. Sonia’s commitment to serving her community through honest and fair legal representation was inspired by her father, a passionate labor organizer and her mother, a hard-working and loyal former paralegal.
Company: Partner And Trial Lawyer, Cowen | Rodriguez | Peacock
Top takeaways from this episode
- Your law firm is a business. Is it healthy? Reminder that a law firm is a business. It’s important that you periodically gauge where your firm stands on its goals for growth, quality, income, and other goals you may have set to ensure it’s running the way you envision it.
- How to manage your new team members from the business and law sides of the firm. Managing a team is a skill. It’s imperative that you hire team members from both the business and law side of the firm that fit your firm’s culture, quality, and vision. That also means that as the firm grows, your team members may not grow with it whether from their decision or yours. You must communicate the past, present, and future of your firm to your team so that you can all work together as smoothly as possible.
- How to balance running a law firm and practicing law by hiring exceptional team members. You’re not going to enjoy or thrive in every section of running a law firm. The key to balancing the things you enjoy and the things you don’t is hiring exceptional team members to handle things like marketing, advertising, human resources, etc.
[02:19] Evaluate Your Business Health: Keep an eye on what works and what does not in your law firm
[09:15] Creating Systems Of Accountability In Your Business: As you are looking to manage your business health, also gauge your personal and team accountability.
[13:56] Keeping up with a drastically changing job market: How Michael and Sonia have kept up with their team’s needs with a changing job market.
[26:49] Managing your team, especially with new lawyers: When working with a team, learning to adjust behaviors and expectations is imperative for a healthy team culture.
[38:09] How to balance being an exceptional lawyer with an exceptional law practice: Although your time is eaten up by running a law firm business, there are many methods and practices that you can apply to balance the law firm with practicing law yourself.
[42:24] Best practices for coaching team members: It can be difficult telling a team member you don’t like what they do, but by using radical candor you can help a team member be better for them and for the rest of the team.
[40:32] Hiring for the things you don’t want to do: One of the keys to balance is to hire a great team to handle the business side of a law firm so you can focus on the practice side.
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In this popular and award-winning podcast for trial lawyers, noteworthy author, sought-after speaker, and renowned trial lawyer, Michael Cowen explores critical topics distinctive to the legal profession with some of the biggest names in the industry – specifically focused on developing extremely efficient law practices, securing a competitive edge in the industry, and wildly excelling in the courtroom.