It's almost time to ring in the New Year with family, friends -- and a few New Year's resolutions for lawyers and law firms.
We're not talking about going to the gym or cutting back on greasy burgers -- we'll leave those personal resolutions to you.
Here are three New Year's resolutions for lawyers that we hope will resonate for your firm's bottom line in 2012:
1. Improve your writing skills.
Sloppy, burdensome, and ineffective writing continues to be one of judges' (and lawyers') top complaints about their fellow attorneys. A new year's resolution to work on your legal writing skills can pay off by making you a better communicator -- to the court, and to your clients. Pay attention to these writing tips from one of the nation's largest local bars, the Los Angeles County Bar Association:
- Keep your reader in mind -- be it judges, law clerks, clients, or other attorneys.
- Make your client's story compelling. A legal matter is about more than just the law, it's also about the facts of your clients' case and how it's affected their lives.
- Use verbs, not nominalizations. Strong, active verbs are more effective than nouns created from verbs -- for example, "conform" is stronger than the phrase "to be in conformity with."
2. Incorporate one new piece of technology into your practice.
Collaborating in the cloud seems to be the wave of the future. Perhaps your law firm or office could benefit from brainstorming over the Internet via a shared Google document, or on your own network. Attorneys and support staff working remotely can access cloud documents from virtually anywhere.
We've also written plenty of blog posts with other ideas to incorporate technology into your practice. For example:
- A new PACER app is being offered as a free download, for a limited time.
- There's a smartphone case that turns your iPhone into a mini-projector.
- And of course there's the iPhone 4S' Siri voice-recognition software -- perhaps she'd fit in as your new legal assistant?
3. Improve your Internet marketing presence.
Everybody's on the Internet, so your web presence needs to stand out. A New Year's resolution to improve your online marketing promises to pay off with more referrals. FindLaw's Law Firm Marketing center offers creative solutions and educational resources to make sure your firm's web presence gets you the results that you're hoping for in 2012.
- Easy New Year's Resolutions for Lawyers (Lawyerist)
- New Year's Resolutions (FindLaw)
- Eight Guidelines for Ethical Online Law Marketing (FindLaw)
- Legal Writing Tip No. 78: Don't Call a Judge a 'Bigoted Catholic Beast' (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)