Delegation Communication: Questions Lawyers (Sometimes) Forget to Ask

If you’ve worked in a law firm long enough, you’ve probably been assigned work in a way that left you confused (if not annoyed). When it’s time to delegate your own work, it can be a mistake to default to the delegation style that you’ve become used to, assuming that it’s effective.

That assumption might be wrong if you’re working with new people, clients and/or matters. Try asking the following questions when you need to enlist help with a task. They involve people in taking responsibility for their work and they show respect for others’ expertise.

  1. What is the best or fairest way for me to delegate work to you?
  2. What might affect your ability to complete this task within the specified or expected time/budget/quality?
  3. What is the best way for everyone involved to communicate problems or progress?
  4. What additional and ongoing information do you need from me? What is the best way for me to share it with you?

Some lawyers ask everyone involved in a project to sign off on a communication protocol before work begins. This provides some quality assurance and promotes trust by reducing the likelihood of write-offs, missed deadlines, and miscommunication.

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