The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Solicitors

Posted by Ryan Sparrow, marketing executive at Legal Futures Associate DPS Software

Sparrow: Really listen to what your clients are saying

In 1989, Stephen Covey published the famous self-help book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Deemed a masterpiece by many, this book remains very relevant today, educating people on how to get the most out of their day.

Here, we look at some of the main ideas that highly effective solicitors can adopt.

1. Prioritise

The ‘rule of three’ is a great way to focus your thoughts. By writing a to-do list that only has three items on it for the day, you are less likely to be overwhelmed and more likely to work efficiently.

2. Get it done

However well you prioritise, you will sometimes be overwhelmed. When you’re stressed out or even just tired, it’s easy to stare blankly at your computer screen.

Actually, just doing ‘something’ will get you going on the right track. This could be to reply to emails, it could be to reprioritise your tasks for the day, it could even be to go home and get some well-deserved rest instead of staying in the office until 8pm for the fourth day running.

Procrastination gets you nowhere. Being proactive does – however small the step is to get you going again.

3. Instill routine in your day

Adopting a ‘see how the day pans out’ approach rarely maximises on efficiency. Having a routine to your day means you get the most from your time and stay productive.

Especially important is how you start your day. There is a lot to be said for keeping a little ritual for when you arrive at work, which includes something you enjoy. This could be a cup of coffee while reading the news or flicking through the joke stories in The Onion. It could be arriving 10 minutes early to have a chat with a colleague.

It will be different for everyone, but as long as it gets you into a positive work frame of mind, it doesn’t matter what it is.

Routine should also include time outside of work. Establishing the correct work–life balance is crucial in performing efficiently when at work. If you don’t allow time to re-energise, then your work will suffer.

4. Keep the end in sight

When you have a mammoth task in front of you, it can be daunting. Getting buried in one step alone can mean that you don’t make the progress you need.

Think of the reaction of your client when they get the result they wanted or the praise from a judge on your well-prepared case or excellently executed submission. Keeping the end in sight and reminding yourself constantly what that is will give you the motivation to keep going. It will also enable to you plan backwards, from the goal to where you are now.

5. Show empathy

Really listen to what your clients are saying, even if you’ve heard similar stories from other clients in the past. Make eye contact and use your client’s name when you talk to them. This will create trust and open communication, which inevitably leads to positive outcomes for all involved.

6. Don’t do it alone – collaborate

Solicitors can be highly independent characters, working in solitary ways. This can come from the desire to ‘fly solo’ and get the maximum satisfaction from the win. However, if we look to Covey’s thoughts on this, he talks of the ‘abundance mindset’ – there will be enough successes for everyone to benefit from, so work together.

Ask colleagues for opinions, or to be the second pair of eyes on your work. Proactively approach peers that you know worked on a similar case recently. There’s no pride to be taken in slogging away on your own when you could be more efficient by asking for help.

7. Don’t be afraid of risk

Playing it safe will get results. But will it get the best results? No solicitor should be reckless in their practice, but neither should they be too scared to push boundaries.

Accepting new responsibilities, conquering new technology, speaking up in a meeting when you don’t agree with the majority – these are all ways that can lead to improvements in productivity.

Solicitors who adopt these habits will find an increase in efficiency and productivity. Not only will this bring more job satisfaction, but it will also lead to a more successful and profitable law firm.


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