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.

Do you know where your money is currently leading you?

Now is the time to take stock of your practice accomplishments to determine if you are on the business track you want to be following.

Look at your year’s hours, break them down by matter, type of work and client and determine how you have been spending your time. If you spent more than 60% of your time doing a certain type of work, how newsworthy is that for you?

Do you like that type of work and working with those clients?

Your communication or leadership style is your personal stamp. The more aware you are of how your communication values contribute to your success as a leader, the more likely you will be to succeed. There are two interconnected values you want included in your leadership stamp: using judgment and being accessible.

Sound judgment helps you earn and maintain trust. As so much of what you do depends on messaging and ensuring that your signals are clear and targeted, it is vital that you use sound judgment with each communication.