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Attorney Brendan A. Sweeney Of Sweeney Law, P.A. Featured In The December 2021 Edition Of The Broward County Bar Barrister – ITEMS TO CONSIDER DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON

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During the dead heat of August every year without fail I find myself singing the famous Byrds song “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season.)” The reason for this is not heat exhaustion. I know that with a blink of an eye, all of a sudden, it will be the holiday season and a new year. As attorneys we need to be thinking of the end of the 2021 calendar year and the beginning of 2022.

The holiday season is a very important time for attorneys. I was told by one of my mentors that as a young litigator your best chance to ever really get a break and have a vacation without any court hearings or deadlines is during the holidays. While I used to relish the holiday season with the idea of vacationing and unplugging completely, reality has kicked in. Now I take some time off during the holiday season, try to unplug for a couple of days, and work on closing out the year and starting the new year. Below are some of the items that attorneys may want to consider during this holiday season.

Review your contract for legal services. The contract for legal services that you have been using as your form for the past three years needs to be reviewed carefully. Perhaps during the past year, you had some clients try to not pay for your services in full or fail to pay a cost they are responsible for by manipulating a loophole or issue with your contract. My office’s contract for legal services is a rather fluid document and gets amended as necessary, depending upon the underlying facts and circumstances. If you aren’t sure about some provisions in your contract for legal services, consider hiring an ethics attorney that is familiar with the nuances to review and analyze it. Additionally, consider sharing and comparing your contract for legal services with your colleagues. It is always beneficial to have additional sets of eyes reviewing it.

Review your accounts receivable. I used to work for a rather old school litigation partner. He would regularly bring his associates into his office at the beginning of October and go over accounts receivable closed matters with the associate tasked to the matter. The partner would provide a list of accounts that needed to be settled. His instructions were always the same “Get as much as you can now, I do not care about the discount. They will never pay this next year. Settle this account now, they will not pay you during the holiday season.” While some of us may be more sensitive about the discount than others, try to do this at the end of each year. The last thing you want to do is bring an old accounts receivable matter into your cases for the new year. This would seriously have a detrimental impact upon the idea of starting fresh for 2022.

Holiday cards/Metric. I was recently having lunch with a colleague of mine and he was relishing the fact that he had to spend all this money and time on business holiday cards. It was almost like he was bragging about the cost and the amount of the cards. I have known this attorney for years and bragging isn’t anything I ever experienced with him. So I asked “Why are you so happy about spending all this money and why are you telling me specifically that you had to order four hundred cards.” The attorney laughed at me and said, “This is how I track how my networking is going. When I started my firm sixteen years ago, I only had to order twenty-five cards. Now because of my efforts and networking, I am increasing the amount of cards that I order every year.” While it doesn’t have to be holiday cards, make sure you have a metric that you can analyze your marketing and networking activities.

Lunches. With the pandemic the idea of having a business lunch may have changed. However, it is still a good way to catch up with people. I try to make a list of individuals that I want to have lunch with. The list is broken down into three columns: one column is lunches with fellow attorneys that I know or have worked with; the second column is lunches with existing clients; and the third column is for new meetings. I try to also schedule my lunches as convenient for the parties as possible and try to meet at a mutually convenient location.

Be grateful. Willie Nelson said it best: “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” We as attorneys have a lot of stress in our work lives. Dealing with this stress as well as clients being in difficult situations can easily lead to negative thinking. This year, in particular, we as attorneys need to be grateful. There are a ton of things to be grateful for, ranging from no longer having to be in traffic for hours to show-up for a rather routine uniform motion calendar hearing, to being able to regularly conduct your ZOOM depositions with your pajama pants on. The more grateful you are the more positive your thinking will be.

While this was not meant to be an exhaustive list, it provides some items and areas that attorneys should consider focusing on during the holiday season in order to successfully close out 2021 and start 2022 in the best position possible.

Brendan A. Sweeney, Esq., LL.M., Sweeney Law, P.A. a boutique commercial law firm in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is an AV Preeminent Martindale Rated Attorney, that has been selected as a Florida Super Lawyer and Florida Legal Elite in 2021, and regularly handles construction, real estate, and business litigation matters throughout Florida.

See original article – Broward County Bar Association Barrister, December 2021 | Page 17 

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