Editor’s note: This is the fourth article in a new nine-part series on how lawyers can resolve to work smarter this year, which is featured on lawjobs.com News & Views. Links to the previous articles in this series, as well as to articles in other series co-authored by Valerie Fontaine and Roberta Kass, follow this article.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
–Warren Buffett

Your business image must be managed and protected. Other people constantly observe your performance, attitudes and behavior, and form theories about you. Your reputation, or professional image, is based on perceptions of your competence and character as judged by your clients, superiors, subordinates and colleagues. Since it’s unlikely that everyone in your workplace has first-hand experience with you, decisions affecting your career advancement may hinge on the impression you make on just a few individuals. Therefore, isolated negative perceptions can have disastrous consequences despite overall top-notch performance.

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