Passing the Baton

A mental concept that I utilize in our trial consulting work is one of that of passing a baton, as in a relay race. The flow of our engagements is such that we function as a team, with much of the work being done by one person at a time. Engagements usually begin with me doing a case intake, conflict check, and needs assessment. After those initial steps, a proposal is created, and skipping ahead, once we are retained, Melissa takes the baton from me to begin planning the project. The research day is all hands on deck and the baton analogy doesn’t hold. But, afterwards, the post research work is extensive and there are lots of things being done simultaneously and the baton is passed among our team, especially in the report production and editing process. It is then, as much as anywhere else, that I add to the analogy and view the baton as a hot potato. That child’s game involved passing the hot potato as fast as possible to avoid being burned. In this scenario, what I try to communicate to our team members is when you have the baton, do your work as quickly as possible and pass it along. Don’t make others wait. Your priority is handling the work so that the next team member is not waiting on you. Client work comes first, therefore, teaching staff to prioritize by using this analogy has proven helpful over the years. It doesn’t pertain only to client work, but to any work of which an team member is a part. This is about prioritization and eliminating waiting for smaller tasks to be done so the higher level work gets done expediently.

I like David’s analogy of passing the baton as it relates to the work flow in our office.  David gets involved with 100% of the potential clients and 100% of these clients who become paying clients of our business.  I rarely become involved with any of our clients until we have been retained for our work.  I do not read the documents related to their lawsuit; I rarely attend an in person meeting; and I rarely participate in a telephone conference with any client who has not engaged me for my expertise.  It is David’s job, not mine, to market our business, contact potential clients who might be interested in working with us, take potential clients out to lunch, schedule educational seminars for me to speak to attorneys, and, generally speaking, find paying work for our research team and me to do.  I cannot begin to count the hours, days, weeks, months, and probably years I would have wasted performing work for clients who had not yet paid for my time if we had another type of business model.  However, as soon as we receive our client’s initial retainer, I spring into action.  There is a considerable amount of work to do in order to get the job done on behalf of our client, including reading their case documents to familiarize myself with the facts of their case; recruit research participants; find and reserve a research facility; make travel arrangements; and logistical planning are an integral part of what I, along with my research team, must do prior to every case.  There is much more to do during and after the research day.  We have always had a team approach to accomplishing our work on behalf of our clients and, as long as the right team members are in place, the baton gets passed with ease.

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