These ideas of boundaries are basically determining what are you responsible for as a lawyer. The lawyer is setting the pace as the expert, as the service provider, for what the client is responsible for. How can we make it an enjoyable experience and an exchange as opposed to a power struggle?

NBH 028: Reorganize Boundaries as Framework

This month, the topic is “Reset and Rebuild” as we are reopening our physical or virtual doors to clients in a different way in our law firms, as lawyers. The topic for today is reorganizing boundaries. “Boundaries” is a very popular topic; I like to revisit it as often as possible because we have difficulty as lawyers with boundaries. We were basically taught the opposite, not to have any, and to give everything away, and not have any structure.

The main reason people come to me is they want to have procedures and policies in place with their clients. The clients have these expectations that may be too high. And I always ask my clients, the lawyers that I coach, if they have any policies in place. Do they have a communications policy? Do they have a policy for timelines, for setting expectations?

The theme of this month is rebuilding. In the last episode/blog post we talked about the foundation. Now what we're framing the house. For the framework, let's use boundaries. What a great analogy, right? What are the boundaries of your law firm? What are you responsible for and what are your clients responsible for? By taking some time right now, as we reset and rebuild, let's reorganize our boundaries.

In the past, you may not have kept the best boundaries, and maybe even during the heart of the crisis you weren't able to do that. But now moving forward, what have we learned? What have we learned through this crisis? What have we learned through things falling apart? That's what we talked about last month. And as we rebuild and frame our law firm or our law practice (even if it's not your own firm), what kind of boundaries are you going to have a place? How will you communicate those boundaries to your clients? Do you need some procedures (some very simple policies) in place for how you will communicate, how you will have rules in your office for interacting physically, virtually? What if clients are not comfortable with certain things, how will you handle it? What exceptions will you make?

You are able to make whatever rules you want if it's your law firm. And if you're a lawyer, you can make some rules and set some boundaries to make your workflow better. And it may be just internal with you. And it may be something that you want to talk to your supervisors about. It might be something bigger. Maybe that's something that, as a law firm, you want to sit together and create. These ideas of boundaries are basically determining what are you responsible for as a lawyer. The lawyer is setting the pace as the expert, as the service provider, for what the client is responsible for. How can we make it an enjoyable experience and an exchange as opposed to a power struggle?

I know with my clients, when I set that out in the beginning, the whole process is so much more enjoyable and there's so much more celebration. And if we don't meet our internal goals, that's okay because we have a lot of space for that, as opposed to just a lot of chaos and back and forth. We have some structure. This is the structure you've all been wanting, and it comes with boundaries and really taking the time to figure out what you're responsible for, what the client is responsible for, and what your staff is responsible for as well.

This is a time when you can sit down with your staff and look at job descriptions again for  boundaries. How can your staff communicate with you? When are you going to meet; what are people required to do? Just setting the framework: Setting boundaries for how you want your law firm to be. And please remember to go back to your vision, to your foundation, to your mission statement. How are you going to be serving clients and how can this framework help you serve clients in the way you want to serve them? Go forth and create your framework. Think about your boundaries.

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