September is Self Improvement Month and the way to develop your law skills and expand your legal knowledge is through continual learning.
Lifelong learning helps you:
- Stay ahead of changes in the legal profession
- Acquire new skills and understanding to add to your services
- Develop a better understanding of the clients you serve
To begin to understand what you should be learning, you should be looking at your goals.
Most attorneys make a financial goal, either for law firm revenue or annual salary. Financial goals are important, but they only scrape the tip of the iceberg when it comes to setting goals for you and your law firm. Also consider setting goals around the client experience, client satisfaction, technology use, marketing efforts, organizational development, and community impact.
Professional development for lawyers also remains top of mind, often due to CLE requirements. But there’s much more to consider than meeting law practice requirements. Also, think about additional skills you want to build. Identify if you want to speak at CLEs, not just attend them. You may want to join a bar association or take on pro bono cases. Whatever it is, if you don’t get specific and write it down, you won’t work on it.
The same holds true for personal goals, which are often overlooked by most lawyers. But personal development for lawyers is just as important—if not more so—than professional development goals. Your personal goals will help you keep your feet on the ground and will provide a means for achieving greater balance or harmony in your life. Consider goals around health such as diet or exercise. Write down and honor personal time commitments such as attending your kids’ sports events or your weekly date night with your partner. Include goals around hobbies or other passions such as taking time out to attend the theatre or take cooking classes.
Once you have goals, that’s where the learning comes in:
- Take a course – There are numerous places to take courses and learn today, including at the Bar Association of San Francisco.
- Attend events – In-person and online events are fabulous ways to learn something fast. Not only that, you’ll also make connections that you would not otherwise make.
- Follow movers and shakers – The people in your specific practice who are very popular, famous or infamous, have a lot to teach you. Use social media to find and follow them. Read what they write and read what they recommend. Agree or disagree with them; you’ll learn something new.
Learning new skills will keep your skills fresh, your clients happy, and it will keep you from either being bored or becoming extinct.