If you called me and told me you were thinking about changing law firms and wanted my help, after learning more about you, what do you suppose I might ask?

“Do you have a written plan with goals?”

Why do you suppose I think you should have a plan?

Any law firm that might consider you will want to have some sense of your past performance and even a greater sense of how you see your future.

But, even if you are happy at your current firm, I strongly suggest you prepare a written plan with goals. If you do, you will take control of your future. In addition, if your plan and written goals are focused on something you truly value, you will feel energized, committed and disciplined to achieve it. Finally, having a plan enables you to best use your two most important resources-your time and your energy.

To not plan is to risk what Yogi Berra once said:

“If you don’t know where you are going, you are likely to end up somewhere else.”

I learned early in my career that without a focus, I could easily get distracted So, it was important to me, to not only know where I was going but also to have a map to show me if I was on course for my destination. If I had not identified what I wanted in my future and charted a written course, I would not have had the discipline to take the actions necessary to get there.

When I speak to lawyers on planning, I share ideas from the first three habits in Dr. Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Dr. Covey’s first three habits are:

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive
  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First

What do these habits mean to your law career? First, being proactive means that each of you is responsible for your own career. Where you are now in your career is a product of the cards you were dealt and the decisions you have made to date. Where you go from here is up to you. Your firm can help, but you are the one who is ultimately responsible.

Beginning with the end in mind means you must have some idea of what you want to accomplish and what you to become as a lawyer in the future. In planning your career you must have a vision of where you want to go and what you want to accomplish.

Putting first things first means establishing priorities. You can’t do it all. You have to make choices.

Your plan will be of little value if it is not implemented. So how can you hold yourself accountable?

  1. I suggest you break down your plan into 90 Days Goals. Make a list of what you want to do the next 90 days.
  2. Get a colleague in your firm or a friend and share your plans and 90 Days Goals with each other.
  3. Plan each week by listing what you plan to do, estimating how much time it will take and put it on your calendar.

If you take my suggestions to heart, you will be a better candidate for any law firm, and I promise you will make your career more rewarding.