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The problem of Fred

When your practice is successful as a retirement plan provider, you’re going to want to hire people who work outside the retirement plan business to help you manage your firm because the day-to-day running of a business doesn’t just need someone who is experienced in retirement plans. Hiring a chief operating officer or office administrator is extremely important for growing any business and you’re going to want someone who is experienced in helping run a business.

I’ve worked for several businesses over the years and the most smoothly run businesses are usually the ones where the owners seek outside help in many of the important business functions like practice management and Human Resources.

When you hire someone to help with the day-to-day running of the business, you need someone who has experience in dealing with the nuts and bolts rather than someone who likes to talk and write about practice management without actually practicing it.

In the 12 years, I worked for someone other than myself, I worked with hundreds of different employees including bosses, people on my leadership level, and those who worked below and I have to say the co-worker I liked least was the law practice administrator at a law firm I worked at, called Fred.

Fred was the law firm administrator or at least he claimed he was. Other than reminding attorneys to submit their timesheets, he did very little in helping the managing attorney run the firm. He tried to act as the gatekeeper to the managing attorney, but he was, was a snitch. I remember him telling me that I should send a proposed client solicitation letter to him so he could edit it and send it off to the managing attorney so it would help with the process. So I drafted a solicitation letter to Fred and he never edited it, he gave it to the managing attorney and I had to get an earful from her on how bad it was. I remember Fred once told me that my goal of starting a national ERISA practice is one of the ones he concentrated on expanding for the Firm in 2007. I’m still waiting on him in 2022 to help.

My biggest gripe about Fred is his use of the marketing department to publish his articles. Now I’d write articles for the firm to get clients or build relationships with plan providers. In the two years I was there, I’d write three articles, which is less than my haul at my practice in a week. The problem was that not only did my article have to get approved by three different partners. I had to deal with the fact that Fred was clogging the marketing department with his articles. The problem with his articles is that they had to do with law firm management and that’s not one of the businesses that my law firm was in. We were in the business of law and his articles on law firm management weren’t going to draw us a dime. Fred was using law firm resources to prop up his image as some sort of law firm management guru, which he wasn’t. No one in the firm or the marketing department would say anything because he supposedly had the managing attorney’s ear. He’d write an article a month, which was wasting law firm resources that could have easily been spent publishing articles from attorneys that could help generate business.

The production of his articles ended at some point and I think it coincided with the fact that I started my firm and I would write articles lampooning what he was doing. I knew he was reading my work because he was accosting members of the marketing department, accusing them of egging me on in my articles which weren’t true. After all, I don’t need any help in getting egged on. Needless to say, Fred moved on from that law firm, and of course, moved on to a larger law firm where he tweets articles he doesn’t write and he’s not misusing that law firm’s resources to publish his articles.

The point is that you need to hire the best of the best to help your practice, not some narcissist who thinks they’re a celebrity in their own right when all they are is a fan of the concept of practice management without practicing it.

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