By David C. Anderson

Happy New Year!  As you contemplate the year ahead and assess your professional goals for 2020, here are seven New Year’s resolutions to consider.

Navigate social media with style

Engagement agreements should be reviewed and reevaluated

Work out your succession plan

Your mental and physical health are paramount

Educate yourself to maintain technological competency

Assess your malpractice insurance needs

Reach your full potential by following Pros for Pros


 

Navigate social media with style

For better or worse, social media dominates both our personal and professional lives. That isn’t going away anytime soon. To properly market your accomplishments, be sure to review CE lawyer Mary Aretha’s blog post discussing the best practices for attorneys using social media.

Engagement agreements should be reviewed and reevaluated

The agreements in which lawyers are engaged (and disengaged) are crucial to defining the scope of representation and protecting against unwarranted liability. Over the past year, CF Pros for Pros blogged about this subject several times. My blog post addressed the importance of excluding collateral matters from the scope of your representation. CE lawyer Kellie Howard-Goudy’s blog post discussed how to properly withdraw from representation. And finally, CE lawyer Colleen Burke and CE summer associate Kara Moore’s blog post outlined the intricacies of arbitration clauses in attorney-client engagement agreements.

Work out your succession plan

It’s never too soon to create a succession plan. But it can be too late, and when it is, both your reputation and your clientele will suffer.  A State Bar of Michigan ethics opinion strongly encourages lawyers to prepare comprehensive succession plans for their law practices to protect their clients and fulfill their ethical responsibilities under the MRPC should they become unavailable due to death, disability, discipline, disappearance, or any other circumstance. The American Bar Association provides some recommendations and resources for effective succession plans.

Your mental and physical health are paramount

Resolve to practice mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness changes the brain and strengthens the brain’s ability to experience what’s happening in the here and now. Some resources assembled by the American Bar Association show that lawyers who practice mindfulness improve communication skills, make more informed decisions, and lower general anxiety.

In addition to practicing mindfulness, resolve to put yourself first and engage in some physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day. It’s often said that if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. Most of us are that busy person who’s rewarded with new projects on a regular basis. It’s easy to put yourself aside and believe that you don’t have time for physical activity. But if you put yourself first for at least 30 minutes per day to get in a workout or simply take a brisk walk, you’ll be a healthier and more effective lawyer.

Educate yourself to maintain technological competency

The world of technology is ever-changing and we, as lawyers, are now required to stay abreast of those changes as they relate to the practice of law. CE lawyer Jeff Hicks’ blog post covered this topic. A recent article also discussed some of the risks of technological incompetence.

Assess your malpractice insurance needs

Do you have malpractice insurance? Maintaining malpractice insurance, while not legally required, is highly recommended. Having malpractice insurance in place will provide you with peace of mind that your assets will be protected in the event of a lawsuit.

If you have malpractice insurance in place, you should review your policy and consider whether you have enough coverage.  Keep in mind that the limits of many policies are diminished by the costs and attorney fees incurred for the defense against claims.  So, if you have a relatively modest limit that’s diminished by costs and attorney fees, you may want to consider increasing your limit.

If your or your firm’s practice area has changed since you last filled out your insurance application, you should immediately inform your insurer.  While your insurer might increase your premium, informing your insurer of the change in practice area will reduce the risk that your insurer will later deny coverage on that basis. For more information, check out the American Bar Association’s answers to FAQs on malpractice insurance.

Reach your full potential by following CE Pros for Pros

To stay up to date on news that impacts claims against professionals in 2020, follow CE Pros for Pros on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

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