YOUR 2021 LAW FIRM CHECKLISTFebruary 5, 2021
LEAVE THE 2020 BAD HABITS BEHINDFebruary 11, 2021
The events of 2020 have created countless problems for legal professionals—specifically, the outbreak of the global pandemic. Although some challenges driven by the pandemic are new, many are simply magnified by our new normal. Law firms are now operating in an increasingly uncertain and rapidly changing world.
The year’s end gives a natural opportunity to reflect on the last twelve months – for lessons learned and for what can be applied to the year ahead. One reverberation from 2020 that has been felt by businesses – law firms – throughout the world is what a difference good technology can make.
As the days of 2021 has started counting, it is important to review how law firm technology in one key area – practice management has helped firms respond to the trials of 2020 by being flexible and adaptable.
Attorneys who adapt can thrive and create a better normal for the legal industry. Having a game plan—via clear, meaningful goals—gives you a point of reference from which you can adapt and adjust to be as successful as possible.
As we look forward to 2021, it’s the ideal time to think about what you want—and how you plan to achieve it—in the year to come.
Still, setting career goals can be tricky. How specific should they be? What goals should you focus on when you’re an experienced lawyer, and what are the best goals for new attorneys? How will you know when you reach a goal?
It is vital to note that what gets measured gets managed. Start by setting SMART goals. Then measure, assess, and adapt them if and when necessary.
Your Goals must be specific and defined—something that can be accomplished. If a goal is specific, you should be able to identify:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who is involved?
- Where is it located?
- Which resources or limits are involved?
A keyword that stands out to me in recent times is the word ‘metric’. A SMART goal for lawyers must be measurable. This means you can track and assess the goal’s progress with quantifiable milestones or metrics.
Achievable goals are the pinnacle of a smart goal-setting strategy. Sure, you should be able to achieve your goals, generally speaking. Yet, there is a lot more to achievable goals. This is because goals are high-productivity enablers. By itself, goal-setting provides structure to an individual or team efforts. When you set an achievable goal, you may be able to identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it.
An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?
While, as we previously noted, career goals for lawyers should be specific, they also need to tie in with your larger vision. Look at the goal of increasing firm collection rates by 5%: Setting a goal of learning to play the guitar may be a goal, but it’s not relevant to your career—so it shouldn’t be part of your career goal setting.
A relevant goal can answer “yes” to these questions:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Is this the right time?
- Does this match our other efforts/needs?
- Am I the right person to reach this goal?
- Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?
Set a time-frame for each goal that you want to accomplish within. Set an honest, realistic deadline from the outset to boost your chances of success. Choosing an unrealistic time limit for your goal reduces its effectiveness.
This brings to mind Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for lawyers that are important to you, your firm and your practice. SMART goals for lawyers go hand-in-hand with KPIs for lawyers because both value measurement, tracking, and accountability.
Remember, goal setting is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve and ends with a lot of hard work to actually do it. In between, there are some very well-defined steps that transcend the specifics of each goal. Knowing these steps will allow you to formulate goals that you can accomplish.