Open and Shut: End of Year Tasks for In-House Counsel - In House
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Open and Shut: End of Year Tasks for In-House Counsel

The law department holiday party has come and gone, and executives are starting to leave for the holidays. Don't make your remaining days in the office until the holiday break a waste of time -- use this time wisely to get yourself organized for the new year.

Organization and planning are often over-looked as time suckers but in reality, they are just as important, if not more important than the handling of your day-to-day tasks. Take some time at year end to bring 2013 to a close, and prep for 2014.

1. Post Mortem

You've probably received your performance review (and bonus) by now; take some time to review the feedback you received. What are the areas that you can improve on? What did you do well? Review the deals, projects, or cases you worked on to see what you can do differently in the future, and what skills or tactics you can repurpose for the future.

2. Set Goals for 2014

After reflecting on what went right and wrong in 2013, set your goals for 2014. Do you want to rely less on outside counsel? Monetize the law department? Update social media policies and compliance procedures? Whatever you decide make sure that your goals are achievable, and outline the steps you need to take to reach them.

3. Close Deals

If your company's fiscal year coincides with the calendar year, then you'll have some pressure on your shoulders to meet some numbers. If not, then you may have some breathing room but it's still a good idea to close whatever deals you have pending, if you can. The worst thing is for projects to linger in limbo; if something is close to closing, try to finalize it.

4. Holiday Scheduling

For international companies, especially ones that do business in Asia, the next month or two will require lots of coordination. Between the holidays in December, and Chinese New Year falling a bit earlier this year (January 31, 2014), make sure that all team members worldwide know about office closures, and when key people will be out of the office.

5. Tax Issues

There's not much you can do to prep for your company's tax responsibilities except make sure that all contractors that report to you have billed their hours. On a personal note, if you have not already, contribute to your retirement plan to defer income and make some charitable contributions to do a great deed, while also lowering your tax obligations.

You don't need weeks of planning to wrap up 2013 -- one afternoon may be all you need. Be sure to take time to yourself to reflect on the past, and strategize for the new year.

What's on your to-do list for wrapping up 2013? Share tips with us on Facebook at FindLaw for Legal Professionals.

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