By Steve Fretzin
I find myself at my desk on this fine Sunday morning and feeling highly productive. Every year, I’m taking stock of what happened in the previous year and considering how I need to change and refocus for the year ahead. While I do this monthly and quarterly, the yearly review is always the most important. Lawyers are creatures of habit and contemplation about the business side of the law is not typically on their list of strengths. In fact, going year to year without reflection is commonplace for most attorneys. This article, my friend, was created not only to inspire you to change things up, but to give you a roadmap to make significant improvements for 2024. Let’s look at my top 10 routines as it might spark ideas for improving how you prepare for the new year’s success.
FRETZINs Top 10 List:
#1. Review where all your business came from.
I know this sounds simple, probably because it is. How can you lean into certain marketing and business development tactics if you don’t track where the business has been coming from? Do this right away and you won’t be disappointed.
#2. Look into your marketing campaigns for success and failures.
Are you posting on social media, writing blogs or podcasting? Whatever marketing you’re engaging in, decide to keep it going or cut bait. It’s okay to quit things that aren’t productive for your business’ long-term goals; it comes with the territory when you review your efforts. This is a great lead into #3.
#3. Decide on budgets for the new year.
I’m going to encourage you to take a hard look at your books, specifically your marketing spends. Is the investment you’ve made measurable and paying back three-to-five times what you’re investing? Additionally, look at your other top expenses to ensure they are still valuable to you and your success in the coming year.
#4. Interview clients to get their feedback.
You may be surprised to know that by doing this, you may get more than you think. In addition to solid feedback of what you can improve on, clients may compliment you on your legal prowess. This may be the perfect opportunity to ask for a testimonial or a referral from them.
#5. Review my strategic partnerships.
I’m sure that over the course of this past year you had certain lawyers and other professionals refer business to you. These relationships are vital to protect and maintain. Listing out who sent you the most and biggest cases is a simple and easy way to plan for this year. Who should you be spending more time with for drinks, lunch or referring back to? Maybe there are some that you thought were significant to you, but really aren’t. Put your time and attention into your best relationships.
#6. Look at my deliverables to find ways to make them better.
Ask yourself, or even better, your clients; “What am I doing right or what can I be doing better?” There’s a variety of things you may look to improve for this year that could change the game for you. This may be using a team approach, moving to a flat fee or subscription model, or hiring a new intake person. Whatever the case, you can’t improve your business for your clients without taking a few minutes to be reflective.
#7. Decide to add or remove staff. Or do more training for them.
Like any business, and a law practice is a business, auditing your team to grow or reduce staff is critical to your success. Is your assistant not assisting? Are you doing associate level work all day instead of the top-level work you enjoy and are highly skilled at? Is there a team member with great potential but no one is providing enough, or the proper, guidance for them? While this might sound simple, many attorneys are so busy they forget to review what’s happening around them. This will impact your efficiency and enjoyment in the coming year, so give some thought to this point and make the appropriate adjustments.
#8. Review my time/calendar to improve efficiency.
Lawyers who have been reading my articles know full well that I’m all about time management. Take a look at any given day and think about how you are spending your time. This may be a shock to realize how truly disorganized and unproductive you may have become. If time is money, and to you it surely is, start becoming a student of time management right away. The best resource for this, other than hiring me as your coach, is to pick up a copy of Getting Things Done, by David Allen. Just be sure to email me after you’ve made improvements to let me know how great things can be when you become highly organized with your time.
#9. Consider if there are any deficit in skills that will hold you back from achieving your goals.
Okay, this is easy. If you’re a litigator and you aren’t skilled in the courtroom, you work to get better, right? The same can be said for other skills that are keeping you from greatness. This might be around client development, leadership, time management or social media. Whatever the gap is, commit to changing the course of history and learn it. There are so many options these days in podcasts, books, and coaches, you have little excuse to stay on a course where growth and improvement aren’t happening.
#10. Look inward at my mental and physical fitness.
In legal, we know that physical and mental health can take a backseat to the work in hand. Like a dropping oxygen mask on a plane, you must place the mask over your face first before helping others. Consider your diet, sleep, and exercise habits to make better choices. Also, try to remove toxic people from your life whenever possible. Being a happy and healthy person will make you a better lawyer.
These are some of the most important elements that will make you and your business succeed this year. To keep from being overwhelmed, just pick one or two of these 10 points to start with. Being reflective isn’t easy and it doesn’t come natural to us in this fast-forward world we live in. Taking some time for you may be the best way to start your new year.
For more information about growing your law practice or taking your firm to the next level, please email Steve Fretzin at email@example.com or go to his website at www.fretzin.com. You can also enjoy Steve’s BE THAT LAWYER podcast on all major podcast platforms.