How about some New Year’s resolutions?

Make 2017 the year you actively improve the areas you aren’t naturally good at

 So we’re all back from the beach and ready to go hard again… which is great. It’s a good time to reprioritise efforts… not just going harder, but identifying areas for personal improvement.

For this issue, we’ve considered the major parts of practice life.  Readers will instantly identify the ones where they are comfortable… and the others as well. So let’s go through them and see how we go.

Proactively managing you work

If you’re good at this, great. If you’re not, you probably spend your life in either urgent mode, or using your time ineffectively on things that don’t matter all that much. The trick here is to develop routines. Routines can be a little boring and predictable but they are supremely productive. Build your routines around whether you are a morning or afternoon person. Allocate the most and least challenging work accordingly. Diarise it all and then apply the necessary discipline..

Business development

Develop the habit of never finishing a week without having coffees / catch ups/ briefings lined up for the following two weeks. Make it personal. Use the phone. It will positively differentiate you from the hundreds of broadcasts your clients receive. Consider going half and half existing contacts and new targets. Have a clear business objective for each meeting, and always try to settle the next contact before concluding. (Note: firms that mostly source work through broadcasting can still benefit through personal network development)

Supervising

Readers probably tire of my beating the drum on this. Figure out how to get your millennials them engaged. Focus communications on how and why rather than what and when. With time deadlines, give them a roadmap and plenty of why to explain it. Young lawyers are petrified of failure. So convince them that failure is part of learning – and is fine – provided that they keep you informed. Finally, demand that they have a go, and wherever possible resist the temptation to say I’ll do it myself!

Producing legal work

If you are good at this, then schedule it after your supervising and business development. You will find the time. If you struggle in getting the hours up, consider quarantining blocks of interruption free time in the day (and step away from that mobile!)

Admin

Admin doesn’t earn you money, but poor admin will lose you money. Don’t go home until your time is properly accounted for and your next day is clear and organised. Similarly, develop weekly and monthly disciplines around your WIP and bills. Wherever practicable, get someone who doesn’t earn fees from legal work to assist.

So which of those are your strong spots and which are you weak spots? See what you can improve in 2017.

Published: Queensland Law Society – Proctor- February, 2017

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