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May 03, 2011

Law Firm Strategy: Where to Start

Question:  I am the Executive Director of a 75 attorney firm in Miami. We are meeting in a few months to revise our strategic plan. Some of our partners have suggested that as a result of the current business and economic climate that we start with a clean sheet of paper. Where should we start? What do you see as the key questions that we should be addressing?


Strategic planning is essentially a five step process. The first step begins be asking questions. Start by asking the following questions:

  1. What substantive issues does the firm face today?
  2. What issues will the firm face tomorrow?
  3. How has technology impacted (or will impact) how the firm conducts business and delivers services to clients?
  4. What are we doing and doing well?
  5. What are we not doing well?
  6. What do we need to improve or enhance?
  7. What metrics will tell us how we are doing?
  8. What should be eliminated?
  9. What are we not doing that we should be doing?
  10. What kind of training will we need to plan for?
  11. What demands are clients likely to make?
  12. What opportunities are we missing?
  13. What mistakes have been made recently by other law firms? Failed firms? Dissolved firms?
  14. What resources are we wasting by defending the past?
  15. What wheels have already been invented?
  16. How would we define our existing culture?
  17. What might our culture become?
  18. What makes us unique?
  19. What potential profitable areas (practice areas) are we overlooking?
  20. What are we doing to encourage creativity?
  21. What kind of uniqueness will we need in the future?
  22. What can we do to shape future outcomes?
  23. What do we want to be known for?
  24. What will future clients want?
  25. What is our existing vision?
  26. What form will future competitors take?
  27. What market trends should be we be paying attention to?
  28. What is our competitive edge?
  29. How can we expand our markets?
  30. What are our priorities?
  31. What are our values?

So take your time – remember strategic planning is a process – not a one-time event. The process is as important as the final plan itself. Don't try to get it done in a day or over a weekend. Rome was not built in a day. 

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Posted at 09:58 PM in Competitive Business Models, Strategy
Tags: Law firm strategy

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