It’s better to own a law practice than to run one

An article in our local newsletter featured a neighbor who recently changed careers. I don’t know what they did before but a couple of years ago, they bought a fast food franchise and they recently opened a pizza restaurant in the food court of our local mall.

The couple have two young children and my wife commented that running two restaurants sounds like a lot of work. I pointed out that running a restaurant isn’t the same thing as owning one.

As the owner, you have employees who run the day to day operations. You may check in once a day, once a week, or once in awhile, but as long as you have good people working for you, and good people supervising those people, there isn’t lot for the owner to do. And, if you get big enough, you could structure things so that you don’t have to do anything at all.

Many restaurant chains are owned by investment groups. The owner-investors are not involved in the daily operations.

Most small businesses, and that includes most small law practices, aren’t there, however. The owner, or the partners, are still very much involved in running the business, and running a business is a lot of work.

Would that it could be otherwise.

What if you didn’t have to go to the office today, or for the next six months? What if the practice ran without you?

That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Scary, but you could get used to it, right?

Granted, a law firm isn’t a restaurant. Lawyers have more rules to follow with respect to supervising employees and such, and great penalties if they don’t, so you might never be able to go home and be a passive investor.  But you can come close.

And you should.

Because then, you could use your time any way you want to, to do anything you want to. You could even go to work if you want to, but because you want to, not because you must.

I encourage you to work towards this ideal. Work towards the point where other people do most of what needs to be done. You can (eventually) hire all the lawyers and legal assistants and other employees you need, and people to supervise them.

Seriously, put this on your list of goals. Because it’s better to own a law practice than run one.

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  1. […] do you build a law practice you can one day own but no longer run? It starts with wrapping your mind around the concept that you don’t have to do everything […]