The Best New Year’s Resolution for Lawyers

Clear & Convincing Feature Article

The Three Voices

The month January, originally named Januarius in the Roman calendar, is named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions. He is depicted as a two-faced god capable of looking at the past and the future at the same time, which is exactly what you can do when you set out to write those New Year’s resolutions; be like Janus and look to the past to plan the future.

Start by looking back at 2016. List three things that worked. Maybe the new paralegal you found after a long search is awesome, social media brought in new business, and you delivered a ‘killer’ and winning final argument. Then list three things that didn’t work. For example, the new software crashed the computers, your blog posts died after three postings, and your millennial associate went to work for a non-profit helping indigent defendants. Learn from the past. Simply being aware is enough.

While you’re in the thoughtful mode, lean back in your chair, close your eyes, and visualize yourself succeeding.

First, decide what ‘successful’ means to you. Does it mean more cases in a special area of the law or more time for the family or at your easel or at the gym or a combination of all those desires? Whatever it is make a mental picture of your place of professional prosperity and keep it in your mind. Hard to remember when you’re racing around from court to court, meeting to meeting, and client to client, but pause a minute, find that place, and move toward it. This is what athletes are told to do—see it, then be it—works for them, it’ll work for you.

Resolve to make your life a little easier by leaving the office early on Fridays, fire your worst client, you know the one that gives you and the staff migraines, and accept there is no perfect solution in the law. Someone will be unhappy. Sometimes that person will be your client. Hang in there, next time your client will be the one with the smile.

Also, consider being or getting a mentor. Whether you’re giving or getting advice, a mentorship can help develop your career or help a new lawyer just starting out. And, do pro bono work. It’s a professional duty, helps develop new skills, and makes you feel good about your practice

Most of all, keep your New Year’s resolutions simple. Don’t take on more than you can realistically accomplish. Move through the coming year remembering where you want to be; find your path and start in that direction. By the end of 2017, like Janus, when you look back, you’ll be feeling good for keeping your promises to yourself.

Roberta GubbinsRoberta Gubbins has served as the editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides services as a ghostwriter editing articles, blogs, and e-blasts for lawyers and law firms. She is the editor of Briefs, the Ingham County Bar Association e-newsletter, and The Mentor, SBM Master Lawyers Section newsletter.

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