Keep a Success Journal to Be a Happier and More Productive Lawyer

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

Keeping a Success Journal BlogIt’s that “rubber-meets-the-road” time of year  again.  When solos start closing out the books on their law practices for the year, it spurs them to look back and take a little personal inventory.  Some law firms and law departments ask their lawyers to summarize their accomplishments in connection with their annual performance review.  I ask my clients to scrutinize their successes and their disappointments for the year that is ending, before setting their goals for the year to come.

As I assist lawyers with these processes, I notice that, although they may remember their shortcomings and disappointments with all the gory detail of a train wreck, they often forget significant achievements from the first half of the year. They also forget the heartfelt note of appreciation they received from a client four months ago and the midnight oil they burned for weeks to meet an important deadline. Sometimes when they master a skill or change a habit, the new behavior becomes so natural that they don’t count it as an achievement. They forget the awkwardness of their first attempts and how daunting the hurdle initially seemed.

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Enhance Your Chance of Getting Good News at the End of the Year

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

This is the time of year when many lawyers have a meeting with a supervisor or a compensation committee to discuss their performance over the past year. Many big firms, corporations and government agencies have instituted procedures that give the attorney an opportunity to submit a self-evaluation in advance of their performance review. Many small law firms are more informal, or even haphazard about the process, however.

If there is an established procedure, follow the guidelines or instructions. When an organization doesn’t have a formal review procedure, I recommend that my clients prepare a concise memo, email or other written communication summarizing their accomplishments of the past year. Most associates just wait anxiously, but passively for the news. They may think the partners are aware of what they have been doing all year, or perhaps they think it is safer to stay under the radar. Maybe they just don’t know what else to do.

I believe it is necessary to be proactive about your career. You can stop by the office of the appropriate person with your memo and say something like, “I know that you have a lot on your plate at the end of the year. I thought I might save you a little time and make things easier on you if I prepared a summary of what I’ve been doing over the past year. If there are other ways I can be of assistance, please let me know.”

Here are a few tips on putting together your year-end self-evaluation: Read more «Enhance Your Chance of Getting Good News at the End of the Year»