Most law firms enjoyed steady growth and few significant threats for much of their histories. Unfortunately, those times are gone. “Disruption” has hit the legal industry, as attested by the recent stream of spectacular firm failures.
The only way to avoid becoming a casualty of this disruption is through innovation; not something most law firms have needed to do, nor have had much practice in implementing. In short, you need to “invent your future” — now.
We do not take a one-size-fits all approach to law firm planning. Each firm has a unique culture, set of strengths and weaknesses, and operates in different markets. More than ever, law firms need to approach the strategic planning process with a fresh pair of eyes and some new tools.
While strategic planning projects can differ, these steps are common to most of our projects:
- Assemble Planning Team. We begin planning projects by assembling the right team. Teams need to represent a cross section of the firm. It is important to include lawyers who are strategic thinkers, naturally more innovative, and open to change.
- Identify Pressing Issues. At the onset of the project, it is important to identify the key issues facing the firm that need to be addressed during the planning process.
- Conduct Analysis. Our analysis is based on the scope of the project. We often include financial analysis, client interviews, competitive review, and partner interviews.
- Develop Business Model. The Business Model Canvas (BMC), a new planning tool, is gaining widespread acceptance throughout the world. We have adapted the BMC for law firms. Our version is called the Practice Model Canvas. The Practice Model Canvas sets forth the logic behind how your firm will serve clients, grow their books of business, make money, and beat the competition.
- Conduct Innovation “Experiments.” Borrowing from the Lean Start-up movement, we advocate testing aspects of the new business model before a firm-wide roll out. This approach provides empirical feedback about what works and what doesn’t work, saves resources, and greatly reduces risk.
- Develop Strategic Plan and Budget. With the Practice Model Canvas complete, the team translates the model into objectives, strategies, tactics, and a budget.
- Execute Plan. There is often a disconnect between planning and execution. Our process emphasizes measurement, accountability, and continual plan refinement.
Engaging in this new planning approach yields many benefits, including:
- The opportunity to develop market dominance in specific areas.
- Increased revenue.
- Greater overall growth.
- Greater participation and plan buy-in firm wide.
- Greater client service and focus.
- Increased cross-selling.