While we are all making our personal New Year’s resolutions this time of year, for solo and small firm practitioners, its just as important to engage in some introspection and planning for the coming year. Lawyers are busy people and solos and small firm practitioners are running a business while simultaneously practicing law. Its easy to get lost in the daily task that take up your time and don’t let you tend to the business side of the practice which includes looking into development and growth.
Inertia is the greatest enemy of growth. The easiest thing to do is nothing. Just sit there doing your legal work and hope the practice keeps growing and feeding your family. A sure recipe for failure and disaster. Make a commitment that 2019 will be the year you finally get off your ass and start thinking about developing your practice to the next level. My suggestion is that yo commit to at least one short term goal; mid-range goal; and long-term goal for 2019.
Short Term Goals
These can be any number of things you can do immediately to change your practice. Things like: return phone calls; clean up my desk/office; order new business cards; join a Bar Association subcommittee, are simple to accomplish and can give you the feeling of getting off to a fresh start. But just like “I’m going on a diet” or “I’m going to the gym” they key is not just starting but committing to making these steps part of your daily routine.
This gets tougher. What steps can you take that may take a few weeks or months to implement but which will improve your practice? The first step and the first mid-range goal is to analyze your practice. What are your key practice areas? How much time do you spend in each area? How much revenue did each area generate? Where does your business come from? Once you make that assessment you can then see what mid range goals are important. They could include finding and engaging in a networking group; creating a subject-matter newsletter you can email to clients; starting a blog in a particular area of law that interests you; examining and re-designing your website. You can get help on these goals by using gig-sites like fiverr or upwork. But it’s the job that never gets started that’s hardest to finish so pick one and take the first step to getting it done.
Long Term Goals
The Big Picture. On our podcast Reboot Your Law Practice,https://lawreboot.com/ my podcast partner Scott Limmer and I talk about how we re-shaped our law practices by getting rid of practice areas that were failing and finding ways to get consistent work in new practice areas. Adding a practice area or narrowing your practice areas is a major accomplishment that can be implemented in a series of steps. At myshingle.com, my friend Carolyn Elefant lists 40 practice areas that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Is one right for you? Is your geographical area one where these practice areas would be a good fit? Let 2019 be the year you fully incorporate technology into your practice. Research cloud-based storage and management sites; decide if you even really need a physical office or if you can work from home; outsource what you can to reduce costs; get started on becoming a public speaker in your field of practice by offering free lectures at libraries and bar associations. Things can change and improve for your practice but you have to look at and analyze it; get some advice from law practice websites and podcasts; and commit to this being the year you take control of your practice and treat it not just like a profession but like a business.
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