Tips for Ending the Year Right as an In-House Lawyer

Whether you are ready for it or not, the end of the year is rapidly approaching and 2017 is just around the corner. Many in-house attorneys find that the “rush” demands on their time slow down as the holidays approach; there is often less of a push for new products or services at year-end and many managers and employees have planned time away from the office.

If that’s the case in your company, put that extra time to good use by taking a proactive approach to the end of the year. Now is the perfect time for in-house counsel to take stock of 2016 and begin planning for 2017.

Tips for Ending The Year Right as an In-House Lawyer

Here are five tips to help in-house lawyers end the year on a productive and positive note:

1. Assess your own performance.

Chances are, you will need to be prepared to share your thoughts on your job performance either verbally or in writing for your year-end performance review. Now is a good time to look back at the calendar, and to review notes, files, transactions, and communications. How did you do? What could you have done differently to achieve a better outcome?

Spend some time honestly assessing your own performance. Sure, this type of introspection might help you earn a raise or a bonus, but it can also be invaluable in helping you understand how you might approach certain situations differently in 2017, ultimately helping you be more effective in your role.

2. Wrap-up pending projects.

Take a good look at any pending projects on your desk or in your email inbox. Are there non-urgent items that fell to the bottom of the queue earlier this year? Now is a great time to revisit those tasks. In some cases, the business unit may have gone another direction and no longer needs your assistance. In other cases, you may be able to bring closure to projects or deals so you don’t need to carry them into 2017.

3. Take note of new hires and promotions.

To be successful as an in-house attorney, you need to be able to communicate well with key managers and other personnel (your internal clients.) Your relationships with those internal clients can be the key to developing trust and exerting influence, even when the information you need to communicate is not what they want to hear. Have new managers been hired or recently promoted? Take time to reach out to get to know them, set expectations and let them know how you can support them in their work in the coming year.

4. Goals matter.

It’s been said that if you don’t plan to succeed, you are planning to fail. Goal-setting is an important exercise for in-house attorneys. Refer to the evaluation you completed earlier (see item #1 above!) Ask yourself questions, and use the answers to create actionable goals. Don’t forget to put those goals in writing! Questions to ask yourself might include:

  • What went well in 2016?
  • What could have been handled differently?
  • Should the legal department rely on outside counsel more in 2017? Or less?
  • Are there new industry regulations or recent rulings we need to consider for the business?

5. Don’t forget about education!

Take note of your CLE requirements and look for education opportunities in 2017 that will both help you in your in-house role for your company and that will earn the CLE credits you need to maintain your license. If you are in an industry that requires you to have additional licensing or registrations, you can also use the year-end lull to complete any outstanding continuing education requirements for 2016 and to plan your 2017 courses.

Even if you don’t see a noticeable slowing of business activity in your company or industry at the end of the year, carving out some time to address these tasks will help you start the New Year off on the right foot.

For more information about in-house counsel and other opportunities in the legal field, contact Special Counsel today.

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