American Bar Association
General Practice, Solo, and Small Firm Division


Can You Create a Good Office Team?

By Lee S. Kolczun

Have you ever felt inadequate? I have. Entering a room when you don't know a soul is downright scary. Some of us would sooner opt for a root canal than meet and greet. (Just how do Tom Brokaw and Oprah sparkle, day after day?)

Looking at your own practice, what are those things that you dread doing but need to be done to provide quality legal services? Those things you hate so much you keep putting them off 'til tomorrow-with the hope that tomorrow never comes?

Need a solution? Get three yellow legal pads. On the top of the first pad write Global Abilities. Write Positive Abilities on the second pad, and Negative Abilities on the third. Determine what personal abilities are needed for your office to deliver quality legal service to your clients and write them on your Global pad. From the Global pad, pick those qualities and/or abilities that you enjoy doing and are good at delivering to your clients. Move them to the Positive pad. What remains on the Global pad are those things you don't like to do and don't feel you're good at delivering to your clients. Move these to the Negative pad. By now the Global pad is empty.

Now, ask a spouse, close friends, even a few of your very trusted and long-standing clients what they think of your analysis. Once you have tweaked your analysis, concentrate on the Negative pad. Study it to determine those requirements that are most important for the delivery of quality legal services to your clients. Arrange them in order of importance. Take heart-the best part's yet to come.

In order for your office to deliver complete and quality legal services, you must find individuals who have those abilities and enjoy doing what's listed on your Negative pad. Whether that person is part of your support staff or another lawyer, he or she must be able to add qualities that complement your abilities. Selecting personnel for their ability to deliver what you can't (or don't want to) perform, your office should now be able to provide all of the services that you identified on your Global pad. As a result, you can give the best to your clients-and it just may leave you time to become another Peter Jennings.

Lee S. Kolczun is a principal with Colella & Kolczun, a five-person firm in Lorain, Ohio, and director of the Solo and Small Firm Practice Division of the ABA's General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division. Prior to forming his present partnership, Kolczun was a sole practitioner for more then 20 years. He can be reached at

Office Team Tips

Take three legal pads and write Global Abilities, Positive Abilities, and Negative Abilities on the three respective pads.

  • Write on the Global pad all of the abilities needed for the delivery of good quality legal services.
  • On the Positive pad, write those abilities from the Global pad that you are good at doing.
  • List the remaining abilities from the Global pad on your Negative pad.
  • Hire or select a person who is good at those abilities that are listed on your Negative pad.



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