I am the managing partner of a 12 attorney firm in Chicago. We have been considering whether we should develop a strategic plan for the firm. We have problems even having partner meetings on a consistent basis and those often yield questionable results. What are firms doing? Does a strategic plan make sense for a firm like ours?
According to recent surveys, 70+% of the responding law firms (ranging in size from the largest to 45 attorney firms) have formal written strategic plans. Smaller firms have a much lower experience. In our experiences with smaller law firms we are finding that fewer than 15% have formal written strategic plans. I consider success to be achievement of measurable results as evidenced by achievement of the goals and objectives outlined in the plan and actual implementation of action items. Lawyers and law firms seem to do better at planning than they do at implementation. Larger firms usually are more successful in implementation due to availability of management resources, leadership and functional governance. Smaller firms tend to have problems with implementation. In fact, we frequently recommend that a firm address other management issues prior to engaging in strategic planning. If a firm is having problems implementing day-to-day operational decisions the firm will not be effective in implementing strategic planning initiatives.
You might want to get your operational house in order first and resolve day-to-day operational management issues first and then move on to the future.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC