Driving objectives: goal setting to grow your practice

Issue December 2012 By Cynthia E. MacCausland

Audi A5 Coup convertible, ibis white exterior and chestnut brown leather interior, six-speed manual transmission with quattro all-wheel drive . . . This is the car I want to drive. Currently I drive a Fiat 500 Pop, with silver exterior and gray cloth interior, sporty and fun, but still economical and reasonably practical. How to move from simple and stylish Italian to quality precision German engineering? Such a move may require an interim duration in a Mazda MX-5 Miata, preferably with a stormy blue mica exterior and beige leather interior.

This is not a review for Car and Driver magazine, although we could certainly have that conversation at the next section council meeting. This short illustration is about establishing goals and objectives. Moving from where you are, with your practice, your client base, your relationships, and your skills, to where you would like to be at various points in the future. Setting goals and objectives in the short, medium and long term enables attorney's to conceptualize what they would like to achieve in a more manageable way, whether in solo practice, with a small firm or a surrounded by hundreds of colleagues.

Establishing a schedule for goal setting helps to set a routine and ensure goal setting as a practice, remains a priority. In my practice I establish quarterly goals as well as annual objectives. Breaking down tasks and ideas on a quarterly basis allows for me to feel less overwhelmed with larger, more overarching aspirations and setting annual objectives lets me stretch my imagination with a full year to figure it out. Goals and objectives, can be financial, earn 15 percent more, charge and collect higher fees, reduce operating costs, etc. Goals can also be task oriented, review current office management procedures, organize law library, update contact lists.

The thrill and confidence that result from accomplishing goals often builds motivation to continue to grow, expand and improve. Motivation may come in many forms, larger revenues, more clients, broader recognition, or in my case German engineering. See you on the road!

Cynthia E. MacCausland is the vice chair of the Massachusetts Bar Association's Law Practice Management section. She practices in Norwood, concentrating in the areas of child welfare, bankruptcy, family, criminal and consumer law. She also provides representation under the Limited Assistance Representation model.