It is time for you and your firm to endorse multi-track career options at your firm.

This is not a second-tier program being put into place for second-class lawyers.

In fact, a strategic and effective system will enable all your lawyers to excel. Some lawyers may opt straight out for specific career paths while others, through discussions and mentoring, will align themselves to paths deemed best for their career progression.

Your firm’s multi-track initiative will only succeed with solid firm endorsement and highly visible and continuous support.

To stay competitive, you really want to know your market.

To determine how well you know the legal area and practice within which you are a successful member, take your market challenge.

Describe succinctly in no more than four words the type of law you practise.

Explain how you developed your practice expertise and built your client base.

Probe the robustness of your practice area, in terms of the number of practitioners with whom you practice; the number of clients you currently service; your profitability; and your firm’s perceived value and support for your practice.

In today’s environment, all lawyers need law firm sponsors, not mentors. You might think that these two terms are interchangeable or synonymous. The terms are very different; different meanings and very different expectations. That said, mentorship and sponsorship programs do not negate each other: mentorships provide platforms from which to launch sponsorships.

As law firm mentors, whether appointed or self-appointed, your responsibilities to your mentees, the lawyers you mentor, will include modelling best practices, sharing insights and promoting a “you can learn from me and do what I do” philosophy.

To succeed as a leader, you need to give and take: give foundational support when you delegate to others and, when you act on critical feedback, take next steps to be perceived the way you want to be seen.

Why do you sometimes struggle with these key skills?

You won’t delegate, as you may believe it will take longer to explain what the assignment is than to do it yourself. You may worry about losing control of the work, and maintaining your own hours and work flow.

Your team is integral to your firm’s success and you want to consistently use them effectively to service your clients. To be successful, you want to act like the manager of a baseball club. Compare your lawyers to baseball players and think of your client matters as specific ball games.

Like ball players, when your lawyers are well-positioned and prepared, they will effectively carry out their responsibilities on their projects.

You want to ensure you utilize your lawyers strategically, inning after inning, matter after matter.

How should you wrap your arms around being innovative? Focus on your innovativeness as a direct relationship to your productivity and efficiencies, talent development, and career progression. The net result will be that you and your firm are trusted and respected, and your client service executed successfully.

Sponsoring and supporting innovativeness does not require that you and your firm do a clean sweep of all your products, services, and processes for the sake of change. Nor do you need to categorically adapt new and, potentially, untested procedures across the board.

Client exposure is sadly another area where many of your colleagues are elbowed out in favour of those with the loudest voices or biggest books of business. Too frequently, your firm rolls out the same people on different pitches, simply because these lawyers have been used on earlier pitches and have institutionally become the go-to team.

Regardless of your firm’s size, there is depth of talent, which you want to expose and share with current and prospective clients.

Now is the time to stop pushing the “repeat” button when selecting your pitch team.

At any given time of the day, you are typically on either side of the communication equation: the speaker’s side or the listener’s side. Regardless of your position, you want to take care with your communication so it will be received and acted on effectively and appropriately.

You communicate without care when you empty out your words, raise your voice louder, or repeat the same message if you feel your listener is not understanding what you want them to do. Instead, take care with your messaging and stay focused on not only what you communicate but how you are being perceived by the person with whom you are interacting.

Happy New Year! And what better time than the new year to commit to regularly contacting your internal colleagues and showing genuine interest in them and their business. You get that this is a key way to build relationships with your clients. It is now time to leverage your client development skills and focus your attention on your internal colleagues.

Sometimes you don’t see what’s right in front of you. Opportunities can literally be just down the hall or a phone call or email away.