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Legal new year’s resolutions

new year's resolutionSo a new year is upon us once again. Hopefully you’ve made your charity payments, paid any debts that need paying and had some time to relax with friends and family.

Now back to work.

One important piece of work is, of course, self-evaluation. Whether you are a small business owner or feel like a “cog-in-the-machinery” associate at a big firm, the new year is customarily a time to evaluate where you’ve been and where you’d like to go. It can feel a little melancholy sometimes — the song that seems to sum it up for me is John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”:

So this is Christmas

And what have you done

Another year over

And a new one just begun.

It reminds me a little that every year is, in some ways, a failure. The end of each year is filled with doubts — did I work as hard as I should have? Did I accomplish what I needed to accomplish? Did I make a difference in some way?

In many ways, this was the best year I’ve ever had. I opened up shop a year ago and had a successful first year. I share office space with my best friend. The adoption of my oldest girl was finalized in November. My youngest child, sometime in March, will become my middle child.

But the nagging doubts are a good thing. Like stress, they are motivators for change and success. So here is my list of things to improve this year.

More automation. Most of my cases are of the same type and I’d like fine-tune the procedures. I intend to write a good “how-to” guide that outlines each of the steps needed in a case so that I can work out any redundancies, make the process more efficient and clearly identify my expectations for paralegals.

Slay the email inbox. My nemesis, the inbox, is an exponentially growing parasite that gnaws at the back of my brain. I pledge to spend no less than 30 minutes at the end of each day deleting, responding and cleaning the email inbox.

Daily, weekly, monthly goals. Like email, there are certain things I want to make sure to do on a more regular basis. I have a bad tendency to do mail scanning only once a week — I pledge to do that daily and to respond to all outstanding mail within a week.  At the end of each week and each month I will identify my large goals for the upcoming week or month and will allocate time to do them. I will make sure that every case in my office is touched at least once every month. All litigation files will be touched once a week.

Marketing. I will move forward with my Big Marketing Ideas. I have a notebook full of them and I will identify five to accomplish this year.

Finances. I’ve spent more time on my end-of-year finances that I like. Starting yesterday, the receipts and tax categories are going to be better organized.

I welcome your expected/hoped for improvements in the comments below.