Who are you for your clients?
November has arrived; the holidays are fast approaching and 2011 will be here before you know it. Many like to start the New Year off fresh, with a look back at what worked and what didn’t work in 2010, and define the goals to be reached over the next year. November is a good time to do this assessment and planning before the holiday rush begins.
Waiting until the anticipated ‘quiet time’ at the end of the year often fails for the same reasons that client work slows down. Planning is unlikely to get done (or get done well) during that time. Holiday preparations, vacations, last minute end of year tasks and celebrations get in the way.
This year, as you are planning your 2011 goals, consider this twist: instead of focusing on what you do for clients — the problems you solve for them, the services you provide to them, or the area of the law you practice in, think about who you are or who you would like to be for your clients. Starting from this place will give you a whole new perspective on planning.
Being vs. Doing
When you approach your practice from the perspective of who you are being instead of what you are doing for clients, you may see things in a different light and be able to imagine your clients’ needs in a whole different way. Instead of thinking about the needs of your clients in terms of what documents should be prepared or what legal tactics should be employed, consider who your clients need you to be for them. Are your clients looking for a trusted advisor, a confidante, or an “answer man”? Do your clients want you to be the person who is wise or compassionate, a big picture thinker, an innovator or the practical voice of reason? Do your clients need a good listener, someone who can explain the legal issues, or a flexible, agile problem-solver (or a combination of several of these)?
When you have identified who it is your clients most want you to be for them, imagine yourself in the shoes of someone with those characteristics. How would the ideal person who is described in that way behave? What would they do? How would they approach the client and their problems? How would they deliver their service to clients?
When you approach your practice in this way, you may realize that the way you provide your service or the way you approach your clients’ matters can be changed to better fulfill their idea of what their lawyer should be. Put those ideas into action. Start being the kind of lawyer your clients expect you to be, and incorporate those changes into your planning for a whole new perspective on the New Year.