Lawyer’s world: Turnabout is Fair Play

Digging deep is a behavior pattern for the lawyer to engage in when uncovering evidence, researching history and background, questioning witnesses. Search requires getting past the roadblocks, the barriers to the goldmine.


When talking interpersonal dynamics, we realize from everyday experience the ease of responding with superficial, top-of-mind remarks. It’s natural of  all of us. In any given topic of conversation, unless we have spent time in advance to give quality thought to it, our first thoughts on the topic will be superficial. And the attorney knows, that usually doesn’t give them anything to go on. That’s one reason why observing behavior patterns of those we’re in conversation with can help us to explore further. If our companion is nervous, excited, angry, concerned, etc, we note it and ask similar questions differently. In time, the repsonses begin to change or get more specific.

For some time now I have been coaching individual lawyers on a variety of self-management practices (confidence, networking, business building, relationship building, task management, public speaking, etc.). In first meetings with them I ask what they want to accomplish. The common response sounds something like, “I want to get better at…” to which I shake my head and say, “tell me more”. This is usually when they launch into a story about what has been going on, an experience they’ve had. Still, their goal remains vague.

My job is to help them drill down to the specifics of what they want. SMART goals is what I help them create. Goals that are specific, measureable, actionable, realistic and timely. Drilling down to this level of awareness gives them motivation, for it gives them a focus, a plan and set of behaviors to test out or accomplish within a specified amount of  time. They apply their plan, assess the progress, tweak based on new information and track progress while gaining confidence in their abilities.

For instance, the public speaker may test out their ability to frame the talk in the introducation and conclusion. Their smart goal may be:

Create a 3-step opener and a 3-step close in each of my presentations to prospects, starting today.

The networker may be wanting a strategy of where to network, what goals to accomplish while doing so and how to follow up. Their smart goal could be:

Network monthly at the Chamber Happy Hour and leave after collecting 3 business cards, starting this month.

The professional wanting to strengthen productivity may need a discipline in prioritizing, handling distractions and a structure to remember these behaviors. Their smart goals could be:

Create my list for tomorrow at the end of the day today.
When distracted ask, “Can I get back to you on this? I’m in the middle of something right now.”
Write down my goals and make them visible from my desk chair.

Digging deep is the only way to get motivated in the changes we want to create. Lawyers are good at applying these techniques to their profession specifically, what they could use help in is applying the techniques to their self-management skills. The great discovery here is, they have what they need for creating their own change. If they are willing to seek perspective in it, the process will give them traction.

Turnabout is fair place in the lawyer’s world. And they can win in both counts.

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On July 26th, 2011, posted in: SMART goals., strategy, technique by