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Dorothy  Secol, CLA

By: Dorothy Secol, CLA  (Guest Blogger)

Goal setting is a topic we have all learned about from the time we were in grammar school. If we think about it, we set goals for ourselves throughout the day without realizing how often we use this important success tool. However, if we consciously plan our goals, we can better track our achievements. With all of the systems we use in the law office (i.e., timekeeping, billing, calendaring, filing, et.), we can be sure that setting goals can only enhance our systems and practices. It is a great idea to discuss and set goals during your staff or trial team meetings. Goals can be created and committed to within the group. Having “goal buddies” keeps everyone on their toes, meeting the demands and challenges of the goal.

There are many goal setting techniques, but all have the same basic elements:

  • Make your goal clear and specific, and give it a time by which it should be achieved.
  • Set goals that will push you beyond what you’re doing but are realistic. Assume you will achieve the goal.
  • Put your goal in writing so that you (a) make a contract with yourself, and (b) can review your goal every day at least twice.
  • List what you expect will be achieved by reaching your goal.
  • Take action now. Don’t procrastinate.

As noted in #2 above, the goal should be realistic. It is important to strike an appropriate balance between a challenging goal and a realistic goal. Setting a goal that you will fail to achieve is more de-motivating than setting a goal that is too easy. The need for success and achievement is strong, therefore we are best motivated by challenging, but realistic goals.

Goals have to be understood and agreed upon if we want them to be effective. Your staff or team will be more likely to accept the goal if they feel they were part of creating it. When employees are involved in setting goals in business, it is referred to as “participative management”. Agreed upon goals lead to commitment, and when the whole team commits to a goal it is probable that they will achieve it.

Setting a goal is a motivating force for the whole firm, from the receptionist to the senior partner. Hard goals are more motivating than easy goals. Grand goals can be separated into smaller scale goals along the way. We are all motivated by achievements, and when we know what we do will be well received, we’re naturally motivated to do a good job.

Put this law office management tool to work for your firm. Take a meeting! Set some goals!

Dorothy Secol, CLA has worked in the legal profession for over 35 years and has been a freelance paralegal since 1982.  She maintains an office in Allenhurst, New Jersey, doing business as Dorothy Secol, CLA.    Dorothy is a graduate of Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey.

Ms. Secol is a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and received her CLA status in 1978.  In addition, she is a former trustee of the Central Jersey Paralegal Association and a former Vice-President and trustee of Legal Assistants Association of New Jersey. She is also an associate member of the New Jersey State Bar Association and a former Co-Chair of that Committee.  She is also a member of the Real Property and Probate Section and the Foreclosure Committee.  Ms. Secol serves on the Paralegal Advisory Boards of Brookdale Community College and Ocean County College and is a mediator for the Ocean Township, Allenhurst and Deal Municipal Courts appointed by the New Jersey Superior Court.

Ms. Secol is the author of Starting and Managing Your Own Business: A Freelancing Guide for Paralegals, published by Aspen Publishing Co.  and has written articles for the ANew Jersey Law Journal,@ and ANew Jersey Lawyer.@  In addition, Ms. Secol was a petitioner in the case of In re Opinion 24 of the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law, 128 N.J. 114 (1992).  The case validated the fact that Athere is no distinguishable difference between an in-house and freelance paralegal working under the direct supervision of an attorney.

Ms. Secol has presented seminars on real estate procedure, probate procedure and law office management as well as how to set up a business as a freelance paralegal. For contact information, see www.dorothysecolcla.com.

What do you think of Dorothy’s goal setting tips, TPS readers? We think they’re fabulous!  Are you already implementing this concept in your daily work life (honestly)? If not, do you plan to? As always, we’d love to hear from you, so be sure to leave a comment!