New Year’s Resolutions
New Year’s Resolutions
For many folks, the common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. Of course, with the amount of eating and drinking typical during the holidays for family get-togethers, dessert parties and New Year’s Eve celebrations, a more accurate resolution is really to “lose weight you’ve gained in the past couple of weeks.” Needless to say, this resolution is also the one that tends to get broken the quickest.
From a professional standpoint, however, there are several New Year’s resolutions that young lawyers should consider for 2008. Some are small and some are ambitious, but we should all have goals to try to reach this year:
1. Mentor, either officially or unofficially, newer associates or lawyers at your firm or company. Whether you’re a junior or senior associate, there’ll be someone more junior to you (for the first years, you become second years in September with new first years coming in). You can give some guidance and pass down your knowledge of dos and don’ts to those who are less experienced. It helps as a younger or newer attorney to have people helping you out and steering you on the right path. We all are going to make mistakes, but you can help minimize them with some guidance from others. Let’s not forget those who mentored us and pay it forward to the younger and newer lawyers.
2. Take and successfully complete a pro bono case. This resolution is certainly attainable. Many firms already require associates to do pro bono work each year. It’s a positive trend. Oftentimes, we are so focused on our billable work that we lose sight of the ability of lawyers to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate. You can even learn a lot on your own in fields in which you don’t normally practice. In the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to handle various pro bono matters, including obtaining a divorce for a disabled client and of working on an application for the commutation of a sentence of a prisoner serving a life sentence. I certainly learned a lot even though I hope I don’t personally need to know those fields of law for my own use.
3. Meet and network with at least one new young lawyer at each young lawyer social event. There are several Bar Association Young Lawyer Division happy hours during the year, and there are also other big events. You can know a lot of people in our legal community, but you don’t know everybody yet (well, unless your name is Brian Chacker). We’ve previously mentioned the numerous benefits of networking. You can meet a lot of great people at these events who’ll end up working with you on cases, transactions or even as future clients.
4. Personally improve and progress as a lawyer. This resolution is not really tangible or quantifiable. It’s more of a subjective goal to be more experienced in our roles and “know” more than we did the previous year. Maybe last year, you were the one asking someone how to do a motion and now this year, you’re showing someone. Lawyers never stop learning throughout their careers, and it’s good to know that you’re actually progressing as a lawyer.
Oh, and don’t forget to exercise and try to keep those pounds off.