Just a few more days until 2016 takes a walk, leaving a blank slate for you to make your very own. Pressure’s on! But we’ve brought you some help. All this week, more than a dozen legal industry experts are sharing their best suggestions for your resolutions. There’s good stuff here! Today, it’s mediator Teddy Snyder, Georgia practice management advisor Natalie Kelly, marketing guru Sally Schmidt, and “One of a Kind” author Jay Harrington. Notepads open!
The single best thing you can do to improve your communication skills in 2017 is to work on becoming a more active listener. Lawyers spend a lot of time thinking about the best ways to speak and write. But communication runs two ways. Perhaps you know the story about the lawyer who was thinking about the next deposition question instead of listening to the answer and flubbed the follow-up, missing an important discovery opportunity. Whether it’s your client, opposing counsel, or a witness, resolve to always really listen to the other person.
Teddy (Theda) Snyder
Mediator/Attorney at Law
RESOLVED: Live mindfully and practice purposefully
Don’t continue to suffer in silence both mentally and physically. To combat the growing negative statistics concerning lawyers’ health, bar associations have embraced wellness programs, and a plethora of information on yoga and meditation for lawyers is now widely available. Take note and plan to meet with a mental health professional for an annual checkup, just as you would for an annual physical! Whether working hard for a client or just getting up to face another day, pay close attention to your body, spirit, and mental well-being. To live and practice with purpose daily is a lofty goal — but a very attainable one.
Natalie Robinson Kelly
Law Practice Management Program
State Bar of Georgia
RESOLVED: Start saying no
If you’re like most lawyers, when it comes to marketing, you merely react to requests and opportunities. Someone asks you to write an article, play in a golf tournament, sponsor a table or event, speak at a seminar, give some free advice or go to lunch — but in many cases, these activities are not worthwhile. You end up writing on a topic that is not of interest to you, addressing the wrong audience, having lunch with someone who wants something from you but can’t give you anything in return, or shortchanging the work you have from paying clients. My advice? Resolve to just say no. Remember, every minute you spend doing something that’s not supporting your goals is a minute you could be doing something you enjoy, spending time with your family or building the practice you really want.
Sally J. Schmidt
Schmidt Marketing, Inc.
RESOLVED: FIND YOUR ’20’ AND Focus!
Resolve to tap into the power of concentrated, focused effort. You can’t build momentum in your practice if you’re spreading yourself too thin. Start by reading “The ONE Thing” by Gary Keller, “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy and “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson. Then conduct an 80/20 analysis. Identify the 20 percent of your activities that generate 80 percent of benefits. Once you’ve identified your “20,” carve out one hour each day — preferably first thing in the morning — to work on your most productive, beneficial tasks. For some, it might be writing an article. For others, forming relationships with influencers. Regardless, if adhered to consistently, working in this disciplined manner will transform your practice.