At this time of year, every year, you can count on a regular deluge of articles on New Year’s Resolutions, “getting a fresh start,” and all types of advice to suggest that everything you did last year was a failure, and to make sure this year is not a similar disaster, you’d better get started now. Interestingly, this year I have seen many more “anti-resolution” articles, along the lines of “I don’t believe in resolutions” or even “I believe in evolution, not resolution.” And the anti-resolutionists have a point. I would guess that most people’s resolutions don’t make it past the first quarter of the year, let alone the first month.
Pessimism aside, I do think there is value to setting goals for the year, particularly in the area of technology. I would wager that for most of you lawyers, technology is not your day job. Instead, it’s a cost center – something that costs your practice money, with little opportunity for boosting your bottom line. And technology doesn’t make you a better lawyer – sure, it can improve the service you provide to clients, but it doesn’t help with essential skills of lawyering. So why bother keeping up with technology at all?
For one thing, it’s sort of an ethical requirement, at least according to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (Comment 8, at the bottom). As I interpret the comment, to “keep abreast [of]…the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology” includes not just the technology you currently use in service of your clients, but technologies you don’t use, but which might elevate or improve the services you provide to them. For lawyers, that last part is tough – see the above statement about technology not being your day job.
That’s why I think it’s important to at least try to set a few goals each year where technology is concerned – reasonable goals, goals that don’t cut into your law practice or require you to sacrifice too much of your personal life. In the latest edition of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, Dennis and I talked about how that might be accomplished. In Making Your 2015 Technology Resolutions, we discuss how to go about setting technology goals for the year, and we give some examples of the types of goals we have both set for ourselves this year. For most lawyers, my advice on selecting a goal would be to smart small, with one goal – either 1) learn a completely new tool that can help your practice – document assembly, project management, time and billing, whatever is most relevant to you; OR 2) learn more about a tool you already use, but probably aren’t using as well as you would like. Tools like Word, Excel, or Acrobat. As I mention in the podcast, Lynda.com is a great site for learning how to use just about any software program out there.
Check out the show notes for links to the things we mentioned in the podcast, as well as my and Dennis’s goals for 2015 – to hold us accountable when we take a look back about a year from now.