Question: I am a solo attorney with no other personnel at the present time other than virtual employees. I hope to add a staff member later this year or early next year. I am frustrated with the success of my practice and feel that I am lost and have no sense of direction or plan for the future. I have been to seminars that talk about the need for a long range plan but it seems that the mechanics of the process is geared to firms that have other partners. How can I best go about long range planning?
Response: Long range (strategic) planning is hard to do by yourself. It is not just the plan that you end up with that is important – it is the planning process itself – done over an extended period of time – that yields out-of-the-box-thinking and real results. Brainstorming needs to take place and you need to work on your plan over say a four to six month period of time.
A strategic plan is different than a business plan. A business plan is a firm startup plan and often used for evaluating whether to startup a business and for securing financing or capital. Typically the audience is primarily external. A strategic plan is for internal use and thus is more of an outline of the firm's mission, vision for the future, long range goals, objectives to be measured in the short term, issues and obstacles that must be confronted, strategies, and specific action items with timelines and milestones. The plan should be short 10 pages or less and should have an implementation focus. Accountability should be part of the plan.
We have numerous solo and sole owner law firm clients that have successfully implemented long range strategic plans. Often we have worked with our client firms on such projects as a part of our six month business coaching program. In this way we are able to do a little each week with the client and serve as an accountability partner.
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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC