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Make it Happen: A Lawyer's Guide to Goal-Setting

  • January 27, 2016

Every January, we declare our resolutions to make this year the ‘best year ever’. Unfortunately, many of the goals we set fall to the wayside well before the end of the season. This is not due to a lack of discipline or will: it often comes down to lacking a defined, actionable plan.

Goals enhance productivity, make us feel good, and of course by achieving them, we also achieve personal and professional growth. Setting specific goals will keep you focused and allow you to measure your progress. Start by creating a list broken into categories for the areas you plan to target. Write down what you want to achieve, how you plan to achieve it and the support you have in place.

The Ontario Bar Association is committed to providing the support Ontario lawyers need to excel in their professional and even personal development. Here are several great tools and resources you can tap into to ensure you succeed in meeting your goals for 2016.

Invest in Yourself


Lawyers are remarkably efficient in taking care of clients, transactions, cases, files and juggling all of the pressures that come along with impossible deadlines, high-stake deals and endless responsibilities.

More often than not, we can easily disconnect from the “person” at the centre of this storm. Reconnect with your inner self with the OBA’s Mindful Lawyer CPD Series, a program (complimentary to OBA members) that provides guilt-free time away from the office to brush up on essential time management, relaxation, and emotional intelligence skills.

The next series program, ‘Implement a Restorative Action Plan’ takes place on February 3rd at OBA’s Institute. Earn one Professionalism hour while arming yourself with the tools you need to achieve this important goal.

My personal goals for 2016 are to be more mindful of others and to set aside additional time for myself so I can continue to take Italian language classes. - Andrew Sudano, Shawyer Family Law


In February’s issue of JUST. magazine, estates lawyer and managing partner Kimberly Whaley shares how she integrates healthy habits into her busy daily schedule and demonstrates her workout regimen with personal trainer Micheal Okumura. Follow their healthy office tips to learn how you can optimize your exercise time as efficiently as possible.

In her July 2015 article, Project Happiness: Lawyer Edition, lawyer Catie Fenn discusses how lawyers can take charge of their mood, with tips such as expressing your opinion, owning (a part of) your schedule and being your true self.

Maintaining good health by keeping active and eating well is always on my list, as well as staying connected with my community. – Taisha Lewis, LaBarge Weinstein LLP


Whether they’re personal or professional, relationships take work. Strong personal relationships provide us the emotional support we require to be resilient, an especially important trait for lawyers.

If you’re looking to expand your social circle, try connecting with like-minded people through events and initiatives with a common interest. Anna Wong practises with a small boutique firm in North York. With a goal to stay connected to the wider legal community, she joined the OBA Equality Committee and Women Lawyers Forum: “I have been able to engage in fruitful discussions with colleagues about issues that affect women, people with disabilities, visible minorities and other historically disadvantaged groups, and to contribute more formally respecting such issues” she says. “Were it not for the OBA, I might not have met my exceptional mentor Kristine, whom I now count as a friend.”

The people I’ve met through the OBA have become some of my closest professional contacts, giving me a valuable network of friends, inspirations, and mentors – formal and informal. – Elizabeth Mourao, Ricketts, Harris LLP

What’s a little karaoke amongst colleagues? It’s “OBA’s Got Talent”, that’s what! On Feb. 3rd, join the Young Lawyers Division at OBA’s Institute to show your stuff. Step outside of your comfort zone to connect with this fantastic community of young lawyers.

Invest in Your Career

After I get called to the Bar, my goal in 2016 is to bring in my first client before December 31st. The plan is to make a post-call announcement by letter mail to friends, family, and contacts that explains where I am and what I can offer, including referrals to other professionals. – Ivan Merrow, Student-at-Law

Every February, OBA’s Institute presents the best networking opportunity in the profession. This year it offers special welcome receptions in Toronto and Ottawa, a young lawyers reception (with a talent show!) and breakfast, lunch and evening events.

Looking to branch out into a new area of practice? Do your research by joining one of the OBA’s 39 practice Sections, or peruse the Career Centre to get an idea of what’s available.

Brush up on Your Skills

My professional goals for 2016 are to increase my involvement in the OBA in the YLD and Family Law Sections and to create more online content for our firm's website and social media presence. - Andrew Sudano, Shawyer Family Law

We don’t have to tell you about the hundreds of quality programs offered each year by the OBA. You already know that the OBA is a leading provider of CPD, developed by Canada’s largest, most diverse network of lawyer volunteers and speakers. You may not know, however, that at OBA’s Institute you can earn all of your 2016 required CPD credits in just one week.

In keeping with my long-term professional goals to keep challenging myself, this year’s short-term goal is getting my ICD.I designation. I am currently taking the Director's Education Program offered by the Institute of Corporate Directors at the Rotman School of Management. – Pascale Daigneault, Fleck Law

Still looking for inspiration and ideas for 2016? Check out the Enterprising Lawyer Series for everything you need to know to be the best lawyer you can be.

Make 2016 your year!

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