I cannot just write a post today without expressing that the depths of my heart go out to the parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, brothers, and sisters who sent their little one to school Friday and are now preparing funerals. As the father of two girls, I, well, you know. I just cannot imagine.
On to less important things.
It’s already starting. The lists of the 10 things not to do in 2013, 20 things to do in 2013, seven ways to be happier, five things Google will do to kill your practice, what the future holds for the future, how every lawyer in the world will be loving MySpace again in 2013, and on and on and on. None of these people will tell you that they have no idea what they are talking about. They only live to tell you at the end of the year that they were right about one of their many silly predictions, the making of which has brought them nothing (e.g., “More lawyers are using (insert shiny toy here) and this I predicted, praise me.”).
I have no such list — no to dos or do not dos. No predictions. My only prediction is that your life probably won’t change much. I say set mediocre goals. Do not try to accomplish anything extravagant. You’ll just be disappointed.
So I’m just going to tell you what I’m doing in 2013. You can do or not do these things, I don’t care. Really, I don’t….
I’m going to get back to doing more networking. When I started my private practice, I was out at events at least four nights a week. Then it became one, maybe. One piece of advice I received a long time ago was “never disappear.” (Cue the commentariat). I’ve disappeared and can’t imagine how meeting more people won’t help my practice. There’s always an excuse — kids, tired, work. But sometimes it’s too late to build relationships — talk to those starving, middle aged lawyers who live in their offices. I won’t go back to four nights a week, but I’ll definitely be renewing my commitment to go to at least one event a week. It’s time to see who else is out there.
I’m going to write more, in different places, about different things. Nothing for me has been more rewarding than writing. I’ve developed relationships with great lawyers (damn, there’s that “developing relationships” thing again), been asked to speak on topics I’ve written about, and yes, gotten some great clients, you know, the way you get great clients through keyword placement in auto-blogs? I’m going to write more about things going on in my practice area.
I will join no boards. I’ve been on a lot of boards. Some are relevant, working boards, others are “let’s get together and talk about all the great things the organization does” boards. The latter being a complete waste of time, at least for me. I always envy those that work on projects in an organization, but are not on the board. More and more I see why. I’m on a few boards now, and will not join another next year. I spread myself too thin this year, and wound up resigning from a board. It’s nice to be asked, but it’s important to know when to say, “I’m honored, but I can’t.”
I’m going to spend more business networking time around the people that are most likely to refer me cases. So yes, I’ll be having cocktails outside the local jail. Actually, and don’t get upset, most of my referrals come from lawyers. If I want more lawyers to refer me business, I need to stop spending valuable time at places where there are few or no lawyers. Business networking is an investment in my practice, it is my investment in marketing. No need to be wasting my investment. Yeah, that event at that cool place looks like fun, but who’s going?
I will refine the administration of my office. I need to be more interested in the ideas of the staff. I need to have a better way to communicate with clients that is somewhat uniform and doesn’t kill my day. I need to figure out ways to do things differently, and better. This is so I can…
Stay home one day a week. Assuming you’re not a stay-at-home lawyer, there is nothing more mind-clearing than taking one day to stay home and work. This assumes the house is empty and you don’t need to be in the office or somewhere else. Every time I stay home I get more work done, and it allows me to step out in the neighborhood and take care of personal errands. This is the future of law. This is why shiny toys matter. Laptop, cell phone, no appointments, no court, it doesn’t matter where you are one day a week.
Yes, I want to make more money, have better cases, travel to exotic places, maybe get a new car (this Lime Green Kia Soul is having some problems), but those aren’t goals — those are results of the above list.
I wish most of you a happy holiday season, even some of you miserable folks out there. May you find joy, peace, jobs, someone to be with other than your Google+ circle of “friends,” and may you realize that 2013 won’t be much different for most of you. Unless you want it to be.
I’ll see you in January.
Brian Tannebaum will never “get on board” at the advice of failed lawyers who were never a part of the past but claim to know “the future of law.” He represents clients, every day, in criminal and lawyer discipline cases without the assistance of an Apple device, and usually gets to work (in an office, not a coffee shop) by 9 a.m. No client has ever asked if he’s on Twitter. He can be reached at email@example.com.