Law Office Management
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Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

By Patricia Yevics
Director, Law Office Management
Maryland State Bar Association, Inc.

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start my friend, anyone can start from now
and make a brand new end.

- Carl Bard

Except for the fact that it comes in the winter (my least favorite season), I look forward to the beginning of a new year. Since I am not perfect (don't tell my husband), the idea that I can start fresh and be better is very uplifting. I started doing this Resolution column in 1993 when I first came to the MSBA and since that time I have come to enjoy writing suggestions for solo and small firm practitioners. I hope they have helped all of you. They have helped me.

First let’s review Pat’s Rules of Resolutions so that you get the most from the experience. I really take these resolutions seriously. It is always important to attempt to be better today than you were yesterday and the only way to do that is to decide what needs to be changed and how you go about doing that.
1. Keep them simple and realistic. They should be tasks that can be realistically, although not necessarily easily, accomplished.
2. Start small and slow. It is perfectly acceptable to accomplish tasks in stages. There is not always a perfect time frame for improvement.
3. Resolutions can be for the short term and for the long haul. Some improvements are harder to make than others.
4. Resolutions must be written, kept near you and reviewed continuously. It might help to share some of your resolutions with some one else to help keep you on track. This is a double-edged sword because you may look foolish if you do not accomplish the task this year.
5. If you slip during the year, get over it and pick up where you left off.
6. Finally, resolutions are about being better, not being perfect. (Whew!)

RESOLVE TO:

* The view only changes for the lead dog. Sergeant Preston of the Yukon

Get a PDA -(Personal Digital Assistant) I admit I do not have one but I am getting one and plan to use it. I may use it differently than many of you may use it but I think it will be invaluable for keeping my calendar and my "rolodex". Stop thinking it is cool to be a luddite. If this will help us be more efficient, then we should be using it.

In the field of observation, chance favors the prepared mind. Louis Pasteur

Consider a Business Planning "retreat" This can actually work for smaller firms and even solos. Solos and small firms should take a day or days away from the office to determine where they are in their practice and where they want to be in the future. For solos this can be a simple as meeting with an accountant or business consultant to discuss your future plans and how to get there. For small firms, you may want to include others in the firm. For some small firms, you may want to include everyone to discuss the future plans and direction for the firm.

* People forget how fast you did a job but they remember how well you did it. Howard W.Newton
* Contact 3-5 former good clients just to re-connect. Former clients can be a great source of business. You need to let these clients know that you hope they will refer you business. Depending on the practice area, you could let these clients know what other services you provide. (Keep in mind this might not work for all practice areas.) You should also contact your regular referral sources. You want to know that these sources are still referring you business. If they are, you want to make certain that they know all of the services you provide. If they are not referring you business, you want to know why?

* Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees.
Ask someone you know who has never been to your office to call your office and then visit your office as though he/she had an appointment. Ask him/her to give you an honest impression of the way the phone was answered, the appearance of your office, the "attitude" of the staff.
I think many people will be surprised about what message your office and staff are giving.

* Better to light one candle than curse the darkness.
LOMA and the Solo and Small Firm Practice Section are always looking for ways to be of greater service to its members. Please let us know what type of services you need and what topics you would like to hear at our Educational Programs. E-mail your ideas, suggestions, complaints to Pat Yevics at pyevics@msba.org.

* We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill

There will be 1100 new members of the bar sworn in this month. Many of these new practitioners will be hanging out shingles. Make an effort to meet a new attorney in community and take one to lunch. Allow them to ask questions. Tell them why you like being a solo practitioner. Give them the value of your wisdom.
The MSBA has a informal mentor program. Members from all over the state have volunteered to be listed on the MSBA website at http://www.msba.org/sec_comm/mentor/index.htm. They are listed by county and have practice areas listed. New attorneys are welcome to call these volunteers for help with practical questions especially when starting a new practice. Please consider being a mentor. Contact Pat Yevics at pyevics@msba.org to sign up.

* Use it or Lose it.
If you have any publications or magazine that you have sitting on your desk or credenza that you have not yet read and they are from July, 2002 or earlier, stop subscribing to them. You are just wasting money and trees. If it takes you that long to get to read them, they cannot be that important.

* Hang with the Really Cool People
If you are not a member of the Solo and Small Firm Practice Section, now is the time to join. You will get a great quarterly newsletter, the Law Clerk. By increasing the number of members in the section, solo and small firm practitioners will have more influence in Bar Association activities. To join, print an application at http://www.msba.org/sec_comm/solo/index.htm

* Mark Your Calendars (or New PDA's)

This year's Solo Day at the Annual Meeting is being held on Friday, June 13, 2003. We will be announcing a very exciting program in early January. Prepared to be WOWED!!!

If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.

One of last year's suggestions was to distance yourself from negative people. I hope that you have taken a step in that direction. This year, I am going to tell everyone to resolve to stop whining. "the traffic is too slow, the coffee is too weak, the weather is too cold, the client is too demanding, the politicians are too corrupt, the taxes are too high, the wait is too long, . . . "
Most of us lead pretty easy lives. While we all have our daily trials and tribulations, most of us are safe and secure, fairly healthy and well-fed. Resolve to stop complaining over the little stuff. Somebody always has it much worse.

I wish all of you a wonderful new year. I know that 2003 is going to be a great year.


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