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10 New Years' Resolutions for Career Success

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New Year's resolutions often focus on personal goals. However,career goals are equally important. Below are 10 resolutions that can help you achieve career success in the coming year.

1. Master the Basics

Performing your job in a professional and competent manner is the keystone to career success.  In the legal field, that means mastering these 10 essential skills as well as the core competencies of your particular position.  Excelling in your job will help you become more valuable to your organization which, in turn, will help you win top assignments, promotions and salary increases.

2. Work Faster and Smarter

Time management skills are essential in the fast-paced, deadline-driven legal profession.  It is important to stay organized in an environment fraught with overburdened employees, rising workloads and competing priorities. To get ahead, legal professionals must work faster and smarter than ever before. 

3. Manage Up

Cultivating career-advancing relationships with your supervisor and others in positions of power at your firm is a surefire way to boost your career.  In their book, Managing Up, Michael and Deborah Singer Dobson, note that “the quality and effectiveness of your boss specifically, and the management structure of the organization generally, is the key determinant of your success within the organization.”  While building a positive relationship with a difficult or unpleasant supervisor can present a challenge, these strategies can help.

4. Track Your Accomplishments

In today’s competitive workplace, sometimes you need to toot your own horn – in a subtle and tasteful way - to get ahead.  Tracking your professional accomplishments is one way to broadcast your value to those who can shape your career.  Keeping a log or portfolio of your achievements can help document your value to the firm and serve as a handy resource for interviews, resumes, salary negotiations and performance reviews.

5. Polish Your Writing Skills

Strong writing skills are essential in nearly every legal job function while poor writing skills can undermine your credibility and your chances for advancement.  These simple drafting tips can help you hone your writing skills.

6. Avoid Workplace Mistakes

Nothing can derail your career faster than a major workplace blunder. Workplace mistakes can cost you your job, damage your professional reputation and hinder your future employment or advancement prospects. As if meeting professional performance objectives aren’t enough, working in the legal industry brings unique challenges - such as filing deadlines, confidentiality provisions and ethics rules - that, if disregarded, can irreparably damage your career. Avoid these seven workplace mishaps and keep your legal career on track.

7. Boost Your Technology Skills

Legal technology is transforming law practice. The American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Survey Report notes that 10% of law firms have e-book readers, 30% are using blogs or e-newsletters, 56% of respondents maintain a presence in an online community, more than three quarters use smartphones, eighty percent conduct computerized legal research and 14 percent maintain a virtual law office. If you work in the legal field, you must master the latest technology.

8. Remain Versatile

As law firms thin their ranks, increasing your versatility and widening your areas of expertise is a good way to raise your value to the firm. As you advance up the career ladder, you must continually reinvent yourself, master new skills and tackle new challenges. Seeking varied work assignments and broadening your network and practice areas can help raise your value to your organization.

9. Build Connections

Building connections – with peers and subordinates, other legal professionals, other departments within your organization and within the greater legal community – is critical to career success. Social networking tools, industry conferences and professional associations are a few ways to network and cultivate new relationships.

10. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Long hours, high billing quotas, unpredictable schedules and conflicting priorities can wreak havoc on your personal and professional life.  To avoid career burnout, it is important to maintain a healthy work-life balance.  Consider how you might achieve a better balance, from cutting back on your hours or working from home to more drastic measures such as moving to reduce your commute time or transitioning to a less demanding position.

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