Tomorrow night, perhaps around 11:55 p.m., your mind may stray to New Year’s resolutions. (“Should I have made some already?”) How will you make 2017 the best year yet? All week, Attorney at Work advisors and contributors have been sharing recommendations to help you out. Today, it’s global strategy and marketing expert Gerry Riskin, practice advisor Jim Calloway, ethics counsel Megan Zavieh, legal marketing consultant Susan Kostal, and New York lawyer and wellness writer Jamie Spannhake.
Looking for all the answers? Download your copy of “Be It Resolved,” created with our friends at Greenfield Belser, to contemplate all 22 resolutions. Any one of these ideas could be the start of something great for you.
Have a wonderful and safe New Year’s Eve!
RESOLVED: Know what is coming
Resolve not to be caught unaware of evolving technology and process innovations applicable to your legal practice. To that end, have a small internal team conduct ongoing research and report to firm leadership monthly. The research should include legal solutions provided by organizations that are neither law firms nor legal departments. The reports will be brief and intended to ensure your firm is never caught by surprise nor made to look ignorant if a client broaches specific solutions you could be deploying to their benefit. Firm leadership can decide how to keep all lawyers informed. This is not an idea but rather an action plan and should be treated as such. It is okay to sail into iceberg-infested waters as long as at least one sailor is in the crow’s-nest.
RESOLVED: Put all client information in the digital file
You’ve already done this with docketing dates and deadlines, so resolve in 2017 to have the same discipline with every bit of client information. Whoever opens the mail should check for deadlines and scan the correspondence into the client’s digital file. If you take a few pages of handwritten notes about a file, scan and file them in the digital client file. Receipts for payments need to go to accounting — but first, scan them to the digital client file. Save emails as PDF files in the digital client file. This is a simple resolution, though it is not an easy one. Old habits die hard, as the saying goes. But keeping critical client information in numerous locations throughout your office is an old habit that must die and you should set its execution date for 2017.
Director, Management Assistance Program
Oklahoma Bar Association
RESOLVED: Work smarter
Read “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport and implement some of his strategies into your practice. If nothing else, learn to block out time to be left alone to be productive, and your stress level will naturally decrease as you make deep and real progress in your work instead of remaining on the surface putting out fires.
RESOLVED: Stay in balance
Use an old-fashioned to-do list (yup, a legal pad) with four quadrants to a page, filling it in like this:
- Top Left: Immediate work for clients (draft contracts, file motions, send invoices).
- Lower Left: Short-term business development tasks (make phone calls, set up meetings).
- Top Right: Long-term business development ideas (column topics, marketing plans).
- Lower Right: Personal to-dos (pharmacy, insurance quote, dentist).
The point of having these all on one page is that they are ALL important. Focusing solely on client work causes the other quadrants to suffer. Getting your personal stuff done keeps you sane and means you will have room in your brain for high-level strategic thinking. Limit this to a single page and keep the sheet active during the week, crossing off completed items and adding more as needed. It’s a handy visual reminder to show you what you are focusing on, and if there’s an imbalance, where more time needs to be spent
Legal affairs, PR, marketing and business development consultant
RESOLVED: Be calm and centered
Develop a mindfulness meditation practice. Mindfulness is talked about a lot, and for good reason. Taking a few minutes each day to sit quietly and intentionally focus your mind on your breathing positively affects every part of your life, personal and professional. What other practice provides such big returns on the small amount of time invested? As little as five minutes a day will help you develop control over your thoughts so they don’t carry you away throughout your day. Mindfulness meditation is not so much about what happens during the meditation, but how it prepares you to successfully handle your life after your meditation. Take a little time in the morning, each morning, to calm, center and focus your mind, then reap the benefits all day long.
Jamie J. Spannhake
Berlandi Nussbaum & Reitzas LLP
The “Be It Resolved” download was a collaboration with our friends at Greenfield Belser, a full-service brand strategy and interactive design agency focused exclusively on professional services, financial services, associations and other knowledge-based branding and marketing.
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