As we kick off the new year, it’s the perfect time to begin your law firm strategic planning. Whether you’re a solo lawyer or an established practice, it can be helpful to assess your business from the perspective of an outsider. In this article, we’ve put together our list of tips to help you jumpstart (and successfully execute!) your law firm’s strategic planning.
Start with Leadership
Before you dive into the planning process, you’ll need to ensure that your leadership team is in agreement. For the best results, every partner and stakeholder in your firm should feel the same level of accountability for the planning process. One way to accomplish this is by blocking out some time in the calendar for regularly scheduled meetings. To avoid wasted time, come prepared to each meeting with a list of project milestones, deadlines, and action items.
Once you’ve secured the support of your leadership team, you’re ready to get started!
Complete a SWOT Analysis
Developed by the business and management consultant Albert Humphrey, the SWOT analysis is a common tool for organizations of all sizes. The SWOT analysis was named after its four key components: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. To begin, start by drawing a large square, then divide it into four quadrants. The top quadrants will be your strengths and weaknesses, while the bottom quadrants are opportunities and threats. Work with your team to gather meaningful information about each category. Once complete, a thorough SWOT analysis should offer some insight into overall law firm performance, profitability, and client satisfaction.
Focus on Key Business Goals
Using the knowledge you’ve gathered from your SWOT analysis, work with your team to create unique goals. The best goals should be simple, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Once you’ve written out your goals, try to break them down into the milestones involved and decide what steps you’ll take to achieve them. (Pay special attention to creating measurable goals. You’ll need to track your progress throughout the year to determine whether you’ve achieved them!)
Communicate & Update Staff
After you’ve developed your strategic plan, you’re free to begin implementation! To ensure the easiest transition for your team, be sure to communicate early and often. Try to let people know what they can expect from the coming year. Change is difficult, so if your business goals require significant shifts in thinking or behavior, so be sure to allow time for staff to adjust. Finally, you’ll want to offer them an opportunity to provide feedback on your strategic plan, because they may have valuable insights.
Build a System to Track Results
Congratulations on rolling out your law firm strategic plan! Once you’ve updated your staff and created your roadmap for growth, it’s time to develop a system to track your progress. A good reporting system will inform future business decisions and should encourage your staff to remain accountable for individual tasks. To create your tracking system, look at your KPIs. By identifying and tracking goals for performance indicators (for example, the KPI of client acquisition), you can better assess how your law firm is performing.
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