Three Ways to Start Planning Your Future
It feels good to put your law firm’s business strategy into action, doesn’t it? No more time spent dithering over whether to spend the odd $50 on a banquet ticket. No more games of “my prospect is more important than yours!”
You say you don’t have a plan? Wow. Really?
Well, there’s probably comfort in knowing that yours isn’t the only law practice managing the business side of things in a reactive mode. But surely it’s cold comfort — especially when you realize what a difference it can make to have a strategic plan bubbling along. Done right, your firm’s strategic plan would be giving you:
- Agreement among the stakeholders about what you are trying to build.
- Clarity about where and when to invest in business ventures.
- The confidence that comes with carefully considered decisions.
- An annual budget that reflects your firm’s business strategies.
- An edge over competitors.
- That wonderful feeling that comes from building something instead of just shoring something up.
“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”
– Dolly Parton
Of course, the most difficult thing about strategic planning is getting started. Particularly if you’re the type who likes to be absolutely sure about what you’re doing. But while it can all seem overwhelming, really there are only five basic parts to the process:
- Figure out where you are.
- Envision where you want to be.
- Determine the steps you’ll take to get there.
- Decide who will take responsibility for each step.
- Assess, periodically, how it is going and adjust.
So let’s get you started with three things you can do about that first basic part:
1. Take a look at your firm’s finances for the past few years. What are the trends? Where are there opportunities? Evaluating this will not only educate you about the reality of your current financial situation, it will provide some really good milestones by which to gauge success as you go forward. Obviously you can produce the historical info, so how hard can it be to do this periodically to measure impact in the future?
2. Conduct a survey. Weird internal social dynamics can get in the way of frank conversation. So why not take advantage of technology — SurveyMonkey or PopSurvey, for example — to gather and summarize anonymous opinions? It may be from your firm’s lawyers, staff, clients, referrers or all of the above. Again, this is something you can do repeatedly down the road to see how your plan is evolving.
3. Consult a crystal ball. Better yet, grab a copy of Jordan Furlong’s new ebook, Evolutionary Road: A Strategic Guide to Your Law Firm’s Future. It’s 40 pages of intelligent forecasting for the legal profession. Once you have a better idea where the profession is going, you’ll know where to position your firm to take maximum advantage of it. (Full Disclosure: Attorney at Work is Evolutionary Road’s publisher, and contributor to the companion discussion guide.)
Frankly, all the doomsday talk in the media about where the profession is going can really tamp down any small amount of enthusiasm you may have for new business strategies. Why plan, some ask, when you can just hang on, surviving on the seed corn until retirement? Well, let’s stop wallowing around in that. We say it’s time to raise our sights, start envisioning the future and shift business strategies to take full advantage of it! Use Jordan’s astute predictions to launch an exciting new role in the future for you and your firm.
Bonus: Not only is Evolutionary Road a great way to get everyone’s brains tuned up to create an exciting future for your practice — it comes with a companion discussion guide to keep the planning conversation going. You’ll find complete information exclusively in the Attorney at Work bookstore. Download it now!
Illustrations © Robert Johannsen.
»10 tips guaranteed to enhance law firm productivity
»Attorney flies solo—and soars—with online practice management.
»Top cloud-based practice management software: Free 30-day trial!
»Manage my legal practice from anywhere on any device—HoudiniEsq.
»Quality attorney leads. Reach prospects online. 10 free leads.
»Learn more about the easiest way to get paid.
»Get connected with law firm managers! Association for Legal Administrators (ALA).
»Simplify your practice with legal practice management in the cloud.