beyond the bar 6 Vanessa Carbajal and Gabriel Sepulveda Sanchez

Beyond the Bar: The CEO’s Most Powerful Asset, The Operations Manager

Welcome to the second season of Beyond the Bar! To kick off 2023, Gabriel sat down with our operations manager here at Sepulveda Sanchez Law – our #2 person in charge – Vanessa Carbajal. We’ve had so much growth over the past year and we have so many projects, plans, and goals for the new year. Together we talk about some of our best secrets to growing your business and taking your law firm to the next level. Click here to listen to the episode now.

An operations manager is someone who takes a vision and implements it – brings it to life. At Sepulveda Sanchez Law, Vanessa is that person. She works mostly behind the scenes, away from the spotlight, pulling all the strings as the backbone of our firm.

As the operations manager, Vanessa is involved in nearly every department at the law firm, overseeing the day-to-day logistics. She’s heavily involved with the client litigation intake process and coordinates various projects including successful marketing efforts.

What Operations Skills Do You Need for Growing a Business?

According to Vanessa, the most important skills for a law firm operations manager to have are:

  • Time management – Operations managers wear a lot of hats and they must be able to manage their priorities and time with all the tasks that come with the position.
  • Communications – When managing operations, you’re in touch with every department every single day, following up on any pending tasks and keeping the pipeline moving.
  • Marketing – At one point, Vanessa spent nearly 70% of her time on marketing efforts, approving new projects and campaigns to get the firm’s vision right.
  • Multitasking – With multiple departments in the mix, you must be able to juggle demands from many directions and meet a variety of needs.
  • Cutting through the BS – When you have so much vying for your attention and time, you must be able to cut through the noise and create practical solutions to move on.

Finding the right person for the role of operations manager at your law firm isn’t easy. Vanessa was promoted from within the firm to her current role, which came with benefits.

What’s the Hardest Part About Running a Legal Business?

There’s no doubt that running a legal business makes you grow up fast. As a leader, you become accountable for everything, even if you delegate. You must set the tone for the vision of your business, your core values, and why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Another challenge involves finding the right people to hire. This requires a hiring process with vetting that not only looks at resumes but determines if the candidate’s values are a match with our own. What are their priorities? Do they actually have the knowledge they need for the job?

What Hiring Practices Have Worked the Best?

By the time Vanessa had been promoted to operations manager from within the firm, she’d become familiar with almost every other position at the office. She knew the attorney’s jobs and the role of the intake team. She’d already proven her worth ethic.

Hiring internally worked out in this case because Vanessa had a sense of process and time already. She knew how to set realistic objectives and goals for the team. If an operations manager comes in from the outside with just a big-picture view, they may miss the day-to-day details that actually go into the operations of the firm.

Click here to listen to the full conversation between Gabriel and Vanessa on this topic.