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Management Matters: Adapt and enhance your practice in 2022

Vol. 77, No. 6 / Nov. - Dec. 2021

Jeffrey Schoenberger
Jeffrey Schoenberger is a lawyer and senior consultant for Affinity Consulting. He specializes in practice management advisory services, including content development, CLE presentations, and member consultations.


I doubt I’m alone in feeling like 2021 was more tiring than 2020.

Perhaps it’s that 2020 closed on a relatively high note of vaccines and the prospect that 2021 would be a return to normalcy. That has not happened.

With that in mind, when we think of 2022, the watchword is flexibility. So, let’s talk about strategies for your firm as we begin the new year.

Reevaluate and refocus
What did you learn about your practice in the last 18 months that you should incorporate into your 2022 business strategy?

  • Did you like working from home, at least a few days a week? Did your clients appreciate at-home service? If so, maybe you don’t need to lease office space. However, if you’re not ready to go “officeless,” there are companies that rent office space or conference rooms by the day or hour. 
  • Maybe you shoehorned some mobility technology – like Dropbox or e-signatures – into a more traditional practice. If you learned that new tech in a hurry, you may not be aware of all it offers. Take advantage of Affinity Insight, available to all Missouri lawyers, to learn how to handle electronic documents and data better. Affinity Insight (AI) offers professional-focused courses on core productivity software like Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat as well as on legal-specific software, like NetDocuments. Visit MoBar.org/LPM to learn more about AI and the other resources members have access to.
  • Perhaps you want to add a new subject area to your existing practice or change your primary area of practice. If so, now is the time to lay out a strategy to build your knowledge in the new area and acquire clients.
  • Along those same lines, that of a work/life examination, maybe you want to reinvigorate your career and reengage with fellow lawyers. The Missouri Bar has a variety of options for becoming involved, so you can create working relationships with fellow lawyers while learning how to even better serve your clients and improve access to justice.

What is your best?
In law school, a professor told me that pessimists make the best lawyers because they imagine all the ways things could go awry and design strategies to mitigate adverse events. If you identify with that model, break out of it for a moment and think about what worked well in 2021. What was it, and how can you build on that foundation? Here are a couple of ideas to prompt your reflection.

  • Many of us have felt rushed and stressed for time this year. Maybe your clients complimented you on patiently presenting and explaining their options. There are at least three ways you can build on this. First, ask the client to offer a testimonial for your website, pamphlets, etc. Second, compliments are a way others help us identify our strengths; take heart that you’re doing something well. Third, you don’t have infinite time but you can “bottle” a good explanation and use it as an article for the Journal of The Missouri Bar, your website, or perhaps a YouTube or TikTok video. Be seen as an expert.
  • People had many distractions and missed deadlines in 2020 and 2021. Maybe you have a reputation for quick turnarounds and quality work. How can you build on this? If you haven’t applied technology to your process, you’re in for a real treat – like strapping rocket boosters to the world’s fastest cyclist. Check out the document assembly resources on the bar’s practice management site – MoBar.org/LPM – for a start.

These are just a couple of examples. Hopefully they help you think of others. Find the characteristics and services that distinguish you. Then, build on those wins to maximize your practice in 2022.

One percent better each day
James Clear, author of “Atomic Habits,” has a foundational idea called “aggregation of marginal gains.” In the same way that someone won’t transform from a couch potato on Jan. 1, 2022, to a triathlete on Jan. 31, it’s very unlikely that you’re going to take your practice as it stands and execute a complete reformation in 31 days. But you can take steps each day toward implementing your strategy.

As we close out 2021, the best approach to your 2022 strategy is to understand what the next two to three years likely look like from a business perspective: endemic COVID-19, a slow reopening, and a preference for flexibility. The last six months should be our guide. Take what adaptations you made (reevaluate and refocus), what you enjoyed and did well (your best), and continuously build on adaptations and skills (get 1% better each day).

1 Jeffrey Schoenberger is a lawyer and senior consultant for Affinity Consulting. He specializes in practice management advisory services, including content development, CLE presentations, and member consultations.