“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.”
–Oscar Wilde

Note: Jennifer Rose’s book applies to all law firms. We are just focusing on divorce and family law firms here.

If you practice as a sole practitioner or in a small firm, including divorce and family law, you have special powers that transcend the limits of a license to practice law. At any moment, you may be called upon to function as the family law firm’s visionary leader, chief financial officer, employee relations specialist, human resource manager, or family law office administrator. You may be called upon to make choices that will affect your professional life in divorce and family law for years to come: whether to hire, whether to outsource, how to hire, how to train, how to manage, how to evaluate, how to fire, etc. There is a limitless potential for making mistakes in a divorce and family law practice. In the words of my friend Chip Chamberlain, “You’re in charge—don’t screw it up.”

You have these special powers, but do you have any meaningful training, education or experience with these divorce and family law issues? Rather than face a series of unfortunate events in your divorce and family law practice, why not learn from the experience (and perhaps the mistakes) of others?

Jennifer Rose—a family law attorney, a sole practitioner, the 2010-2011 Chair of the ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division—has collected the wisdom of 21 solo and small firm practitioners and one law office administrator and prepared a 220-page blueprint for not screwing up your law practice, which includes divorce and family law. Whether you seek to do it all yourself or to delegate to an effective and profitable divorce and family law staff, Effectively Staffing Your Law Firm will help you avoid mistakes that can lead to the loss of divorce and family law clients, harm your reputation, and have less money in your pocket.

Rose has shaped her 22 experts into six broad categories: going it alone; finding the right fit for law office staff, including divorce and family law staff; your staff, your team; paralegal and legal assistants; rules of engagement; and knowledge of employment law. Each category has two to six chapters, each written by someone with extensive experience in the area, including divorce and family law experience.

Rose’s book will help you make your office, including your divorce and family law office, more effective, efficient and enjoyable.

The chapters offer advice and guidance on issues like:

  1. Whether to staff or not to staff your family law office.
  2. How to manage time and resources more efficiently.
  3. How to evaluate alternatives to full-time employees, such as executive office suites and outsourcing.
  4. How to successfully recruit skilled staff in family law.
  5. How to motivate and lead your family law staff.
  6. How to avoid and manage disputes involving your family law staff.
  7. How to evaluate your family law staff.
  8. How to complement your competence and abilities with those of your divorce and family law staff, especially in the area of technology.
  9. How to delegate and supervise your family law staff while maintaining high ethical standards.
  10. How to develop an employee manual, security precautions and internet/email/computer policies for your divorce and family law staff.
  11. How to comply with discrimination, civil rights, and employment laws.
  12. How to fire an employee that would apply to your divorce and family law practice.

When I made the jump and started my own firm, I turned to Jay Foonberg’s How to Start and Build a Law Practice. There is no substitute for that 700-page resource which spans the range from location to letterhead to marketing to making money. Still, Rose’s book goes into more depth in how to actually staff and properly run your office, including a divorce and family law office. You will find solid advice and useful checklists and even a few forms you can use in your divorce and family law practice. Most importantly, you will have immediate access to 22 experts who understand your looming crisis and the potential for an ugly, deflating, time-consuming and costly mistake for your divorce and family law practice.

Surely, there is more to be said on each of the topics covered, and there are books in print on most every issue that would apply to running a divorce and family law firm. But you became an attorney in order to practice law. This book will give you enough guidance to move your practice through many of the most common issues, including divorce and family law issues. You can turn to a chapter or two, think through the challenge or conflict you are facing, and avert a disastrous result for your divorce and family law firm. Over time, you will make mistakes. Everyone does. Let’s just try to limit those mistakes to little mistakes, not big ones for your divorce and family law practice.

Learn from Rose’s 220-page blueprint for success. Use the 22 experts and their collective wisdom. And avoid the mistakes that otherwise would add to your “experience.” Effectively Staffing Your Law Firm will help you to be in charge, to be effective, and to not screw it up for your divorce and family law practice..

Jennifer J. Rose, ed., EFFECTIVELY STAFFING YOUR LAW FIRM (2009, American Bar Association). $89.95.