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Kathryn Whitaker

Every year at my firm, our Practice Standards and Risk Management Committee produces a list of New Year’s resolutions for our lawyers. Some are quirky, some are practical, some are idealistic and some are targeted. They are all thought-provoking.

The tradition of taking the time to think about what you could or should do differently in the new calendar year is an admirable one. For us in this strange and wonderful world of legal marketing, I offer a few ideas for consideration.

  • Intentionally seek points of view that differ from your own. In a world where one-third of adults older than 30 years old get news through social networks, it is quite easy to surround yourself only with those who agree with your positions. Engagement and discourse are cornerstones of change and innovation. Though hearing others articulate what you believe and how you feel may provide more talking points for your position, you risk falling into a groupthink trap that stifles creativity and discourages civility.
  • Channel the Energizer bunny. Studies have consistently shown that a key characteristic of high performers is having a network that  helps them learn, accomplish tasks efficiently and effectively, and enjoy their working lives. Not surprisingly, high performers share certain  beliefs and attitudes,and engage in specific behaviors to develop and maintain their networks. One of the most important characteristics of a high performer that continues to advance throughout time lies with his or her ability to generate enthusiasm amongst those in his or her network. In fact, it turns out that this ability to create energy is literally four times the predictor of a high performer as any other network  dimension and is also tightly tied to where innovations emerge and take hold in organizations.
  • Write regularly. InsideCounsel’s 2012 New Media Engagement Study found that, for the first time, general counsel more frequently visited attorney-authored law blogs than media-authored law blogs. I thought that was a striking, though not entirely unexpected, result. Put yourself out there as communications, public relations, business development, sales, strategy, and research experts. Writing is a credentialing activity, but I have also found that articulating my thoughts and ideas gives me a valuable and memorable way to process information. It strengthens my argument.
  • Scrape the barnacles off your hull. What is slowing you down? What keeps you from working efficiently? What are the drags on your energy level and output? Identify and eliminate them. Start by determining at least one matter, task, habit, arrangement or person you want to be “done with” in 2013. Then make it happen.
  • When you come up with a new idea, include a plan and timeline for implementation and maintenance. Vince Lombardi once said, “The joy is in creating, not maintaining.” It is important to remember that we judge ourselves by our intentions and others judge us by our actions. What did you start this year with every intention to see through, but then allowed it to sit on your desk, in your inbox or on your calendar untouched? Revisit it. Was it a worthwhile idea, committee or project? If so, decide how you could resuscitate it and ensure it is maintained. Most people derive satisfaction from coming up with an idea and having it met with enthusiasm. Not as many people derive satisfaction   from the work it takes to implement the idea. Often  we, as staff people in law firms, are the implementers. So an alternative resolution might be to find a project you can create but  that others can be charged with implementing. It will give you renewed energy and make you happy.
  • Be more easily found. You may have a common name that makes it difficult for a Google search of yourself to yield the real you on first page results. (My own name twin is an autism consultant in Vermont.) But as a marketing professional, you must be easily found through search engines — especially site-specific ones on your own organization’s website and professional networking sites.
  • Recognize this: You are enough. You do enough. You have enough. A great friend of mine shared these pearls of wisdom with me  some time ago, and they have stuck with me. We are busy people and are constantly asked to do more with less. Embracing that you are enough, do enough and have enough will allow you to be more comfortable in daily life and enable you to focus on the big picture.
  • Calendar time to consider what you could and should do differently. I am counting on next year to be one for the record books.

The legal industry has just been through a sea change, and legal marketing and business development professionals are positioned to lead change and make a real difference in the next few years. Put aside an hour on your calendar, and be intentional about what you want to do next year. I expect great things from you, my friends.

Author Kathryn Whitaker is an alumna of Calibrate Legal.