Sandra Rachel Stanfield | Crain's Connecticut

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Sandra Rachel Stanfield

Background:  

Based in West Hartford, Conn., Stanger Stanfield Law specializes in family law, malpractice, nonprofits, business law, employment law, personal injury, real estate law and estate planning.

The Mistake:

As a young lawyer, I thought it was incumbent upon me to be in charge of all of my clients and all of my cases, all of the time. I had a really great paralegal and associates I could share strategies with, and other support staff. But I would second and third guess them in each case, every step of the way. I would run point with each client all of the time, no matter how small the issue, until I realized that I was having less and less time for the parts of each case and representation that I needed and loved to do. 

I see now that doing that didn’t serve my clients well and it didn’t serve me well.  What was even more detrimental was that it sent the message to my staff that they weren’t a valued part of the team.   

I do not take on the entire burden myself.  

The Lesson:

Flash forward several years. I’m a co-owner and co-manager of a litigation law firm. Today, I understand the importance of relying on others in order to provide the client with the best and most economical services possible, as well as the best outcome possible. I have spent years honing my skills of strategizing and positioning a case for a good legal outcome. My skills lie in analyzing the strengths of each case and in making clients understand that they have someone to champion their cause. I can best serve them by spending my time on these parts of the work and leaving the other parts to others in the firm who are skilled in other areas of managing a case.

At our firm we work as a collaborative team. I still supervise each piece of the litigation or client service, and work on strategy and direction for each case. I am in good contact with each client. Yet I do not take on the entire burden myself. I’ve learned to rely on others to do what they do—research, writing initial drafts of briefs and some client updating, as well as collaboration on case strategy. While I make make sure that the research is complete and I revise briefs, I now know the best result for the client is to collaborate and use the strengths of everyone in the firm. For the clients, that means they get the best product and one that’s done the most efficiently and more economically. Isn’t that the goal at the end of the day? 

Follow Stanger Law on Twitter @StangerLaw

​Photo courtesy of Sandra Rachel Stanfield

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