September has arrived, ushering in a new season, and, after our summer reprieves, the beginning of a new work cycle.
Whether you are a sole practitioner, a new lawyer, or the managing partner at a large firm, September is also an optimal time for big-picture reflection, planning and setting new goals.
On a smaller scale, however, it occurs to me there are a few simple things we can all do that could be as positively impactful on our professional successes (and satisfaction) as the most elaborate of strategic plans.
In that vein, here are my tips for September:
- Help make your office as relaxed and happy as possible. Creating an environment that you and others in your firm look forward to being at will always be a winning strategy.
- Do it early. Deadlines are rarely a surprise or suddenly imposed. Trying planning your schedule to leave real breathing space so that tasks can be completed early, not at the last minute.
- Don’t let that file sit. One of my first mentors put it this way: “There will always be files you avoid, for good reasons or bad. If you let them fester, those files will eventually bite you back. The solution is easy – just do something. Make a call, write a letter, send a memo or schedule an appointment, but just do something on the file.” It is that easy to change momentum
- Less is more, especially in pleadings and argument. Strive for economy in your use of language. People – including judges – will probably appreciate it. And as an added bonus, you will likely become more effective.
- Establish a system. Have a look at your most frequent, typical tasks, and figure out ways to streamline them. Try to organize templates, limit unnecessary steps, and generally, standardize where possible. This will save time, eliminate guesswork, and reduce the potential for errors and omissions.
- Take a walk. Build break time into your daily schedule, and try to keep those breaks as work-free as is possible.
- Say thank you. There are a lot of people contributing to your professional successes. Once in a while, let them know you appreciate them. They will appreciate you back.
- Listen to an expert. It’s impossible for any of us to know as much as we would like to know about every thing. You will always have questions about practice-building and technical and factual issues in your files. You may not know the answers, but someone will. Make it part of your job description to locate and connect with those “someones.”
- Delegate. The MBAs of the world are right on this.
- Participate. The CBA and law societies, among others, are almost constantly seeking input from the profession on any number of current topics. Get involved. Let your voice be heard. It will make your job more rewarding and more fun, and you will meet lots of great people in the process.
- (Bonus tip) Vape, don’t smoke.
Enjoy our new season. And to those who celebrated this past week, Shana Tova – a happy and healthy new year from all the Slaw Tippers to you and yours.