No man performs a symphony alone. No man gets the job done in a law office alone either, not even you solos. We are all subject to running up against it at times. You know what it is. It’s the unknown process, or the appealing case we’ve never taken on before, or any number of anxiety-causing events or circumstances that may present themselves in any given day within your practice. And whether you’re the senior partner at Baker & McKenzie, or you’re a solo practitioner in rural North Dakota whose name happens to be Baker McKenzie, you’re going to need some legal allies to help you out from time to time.
I recently found myself in need of some help on such an issue in my own practice when I was in need of achieving service on a defendant in Delhi, India. Now for many, that task may seem rudimentary, but for me it presented a simple challenge of quickly learning the finer details of the Hague Convention so that I could properly serve my targeted defendant. As I began the task of updating my recollection of the Hague, I realized there had to be a better way for me to get this task accomplished than spending a full day on it. And there was.
A quick Google search led me to a vendor in Atlanta that had an appealing website that essentially made them look like they knew what they were doing, and better yet, they had a phone number. To assuage my suspicion as to whether they were an international fraud ring only concerned with bilking me of my money, I picked up the phone and called. A young man answered and when I informed him of what I needed done, he politely responded, “Oh sure. Let me get you to someone who can help you with that.” Sure enough, he got me to “Pete.” Pete was more than helpful, and without even being retained gave me advice that I wouldn’t have known without experience attempting service in this particular country before. And I know my first attempt would have come back unsuccessful. Pete had already saved me one failed attempt at this task, and likely a bit of scorn from the judge in the case. I was sold.
For a fee of a few hours of my time, Pete took care of the entire project, and I slept better knowing I had someone experienced in this process taking it on for me, and in the end my client would be better served, and probably save some money.
There are scores of tasks, projects, and procedural undertakings that are probably better outsourced to vendors or experts who do the thing every day. Sure, you’re smart enough to figure it out, but is your 5 hours of time to learn the process worth it for the client, when you could outsource it for a few hundred bucks? Don’t be afraid to utilize every prospective vendor to provide a better service for your client at a more cost-effective price. And I know some may say, “But Chris, I’ve been hired to do this thing and the client won’t understand.” Oh, my friend, don’t forget you’re already doing then when it comes to service of process. My experience suggests that rare is the lawyer who is serving process on their own. And rarer still should be the lawyer who’s afraid to ask for help from those best suited to the task.
Putting an army of legal vendors, or better yet, “strategic partners,” to work for you in your practice is not only good practice, but its good business. Take as much uncommon work off your plate as you can and concentrate on the tasks that provide the most value to your client if you’re the one performing them. Your client will end up with a better product, you’ll have a friend in a happy vendor, and you’ll find yourself facing less anxiety as you continue to find more joy in your ability to live the lawyer life.