Whether you’re starting work this new year at home or in the office, there are a number of tasks we recommend checking off your to do list to set yourself up for a productive and rewarding year in practice.

1. Reflect on the previous year

Before you dive any deeper into your new matters, take some time to review the previous calendar year. Regardless of your role or position in your firm, reflecting on the previous year can help you set off on the right foot this year. How detailed you’d like your review to be is entirely up to you. Whether you’d like to sit down with a pen and paper and conduct a SWOT analysis or simply be present with your thoughts, some key areas to consider in your review may include:

  • Time management – how was your time management last year? Reflect on things that both helped an hampered your use of time and consider what strategies you can employ to continue or improve you time management in 2021.
  • KPI Performance – if you had KPIs, budgets or targets set in 2020, take a look and whether you achieved this. If you reached these targets, identify what strategies helped you to do this. If you didn’t reach these targets, what stopped you from doing so? Consider making a plan to overcome these challenges should you face them again this year.

2. Follow up on incomplete tasks

Are there any loose ends from the previous calendar year that still need to be tied up? Have you removed your Christmas or holiday message from your e-mails and documents? While it can be easy to get started on new matters and tasks at the beginning of the year, getting to work on incomplete tasks from the previous year can be less appealing.

Consider using the first few weeks or months of this year to make a list and complete any outstanding tasks such as issuing invoices or receipts, finalising incomplete file notes and filing. Now is also a good time to do a general clean up of your files. Can any of your matters be archived?

3. Review your rates and KPIs

Once you’ve reviewed your own performance as well as your firm’s overall performance for the previous calendar year, consider whether any adjustments need to be made to either your rates or internal KPIs and budgets.

Individual budgets can be easily tracked in LEAP directly from the timesheet. Once a staff budget has been set, individual fee-earners can see their daily, weekly and monthly total of billable hours from the bottom right-hand corner of their time. You can learn more about creating a monthly staff budget here.

If you need to make any changes to your billing rates, remember to also update these in LEAP by navigating to Menu > Settings > Application Settings > Staff > Staff Members then selecting the staff member you’d like to update rates for. If you’ve got any new staff members, you can also set them up in LEAP here by selecting ‘New Staff Member’.

4. Catch up on enquiries

Did existing or potential clients log any enquiries with you or your firm over the break? Set aside some time to respond to these – you may find some new business opportunities waiting for you.

If your firm has a LEAP Web Portal, remember to visit your CRM dashboard to review or respond to enquiries or import these enquires directly to LEAP if you’re ready to get started on a matter. Consider reviewing your CRM email templates too if any of your contact details or processes have changed over the new year.

5. Make time for professional development

It’s easy to let your CPD requirements fall by the wayside until the annual deadline nears. The start of the year is a great time to schedule in any remaining CPD courses, webinars and seminars. Doing this now means you can avoid the pressure of a last minute rush to fulfil your requirements and make the most of your CPD activities.

Whether you block out time for in-person or online events or simply schedule in regular time for private study of materials, ensure you also confirm whether any particular CPD area requires your attention. The commentaries available in By Lawyers can be a great option of you enjoy private study. Authored by practising Australian lawyers, they offer comprehensive guidance for all common areas of law as well as provide detailed practical resources. These commentaries are an invaluable resource if you’re looking to branch out into additional practice areas this year.

Looking for CPD opportunities? LEAP offers a range of complimentary events, webinars and Q&A sessions in the lead up to the official CPD deadline each year. Register for upcoming events and webinars here.

Need a convenient way to keep a record of your CPD activities? Download our complimentary CPD activity tracker which you can use to keep a digital or hard copy record of you activities. Remember to refer to your governing law society for rules regarding the allocation of CPD points.