Three ways to improve your practice in 2017

Kevin Cheung
Do you make New Year''s resolutions for your practice? This exercise can be a valuable opportunity to make meaningful changes in your firm. The following are three resolutions to consider for 2017.

1. Measure the progress of your goals quarterly

New Year's resolutions often fail because they are too vague or too big to manage. A year-long goal is also too long of a time frame for many to keep track of. There must be checkpoints along the way.

Dividing the year into quarters helps us better manage our goals. A year-long goal is easier to handle if it is broken down into smaller goals tackled quarterly. At the end of each quarter, review your progress.
Assess whether adjustments need to be made either to the end goal or to the quarterly steps toward achieving that goal.

Not only should you measure your progress toward goals on a quarterly basis, but you should also measure the health of your firm quarterly as well. A previous article discusses how using key performance indicators can help you assess your practice.

The great thing about a quarterly system is that it allows you to reset and refocus every three months. It creates a New Year's resolution mindset at the end of each quarter.

2. Start going paperless

If you have not taken steps to go paperless, make 2017 the year that you do. There are numerous articles touting the benefits of a paperless office, but it really comes down to making your practice more efficient.

Electronic files are quicker to access, can be accessed from anywhere and are easier to send and share.
They save physical space and the cost associated with such space. Moreover, most text documents can be formatted to allow you to search the text, making it more efficient to locate and retrieve information.
In a world where clients are demanding fast service and lower legal fees, the efficiency of a paperless office will go a long way toward meeting those demands.

Many jurisdictions are looking at or beginning to move toward electronic filing of documents at courthouses. Paperless is the way the industry is moving, so it is a reality that should not be ignored any longer.

3. Try a new technology or software

There are always new technologies and software that can assist your practice. From virtual assistants to note-taking applications to software allowing your clients to book an appointment in your calendar, the tools exist to make your practice leaner and more productive. If you have been hesitating on adopting a new technology or application, set a goal to try one or two each quarter. Pick a facet of your practice that you want to improve and identify technology or software targeted to that area. If you are unsure of where to start, make it a goal to attend a technology conference for lawyers this year. You will find something that will make your life easier.

Setting goals is a way to direct how your practice evolves. The beginning of the year is an ideal time to refresh and set goals that will improve your firm. Whatever you decide on, establish a system for measuring your progress and stay on top of it.

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