Law Practice Management Asked and Answered Blog
Dec 15, 2015
I am a senior partner in a fourteen attorney intellectual property firm in Memphis. We are planning on having a firm retreat in January 2016. We have never had a retreat before. Our plan is to have a one day retreat facilitated by a consultant with specific focus on competitive strategy and marketing. We have just decided this week that we would like to do this and are just beginning the planning process. I would like to hear your thoughts and suggestions.
Here are my thoughts:
- First of all it is now December and January is just around the corner and I believe that you need to have at least 60 days to properly prepare and plan for the retreat. Most management consultants that facilitate retreats, including myself, will want to get to know the firm and will want to conduct attorney interviews, (face to face or via telephone depending upon whether they are local), review financial reports and other documents, and prepare the retreat program. Participants (your people) may need time to prepare as well. Off-site facilities will need to be booked as well.
- Decide in advance the outcomes that you would like to achieve. Is it to entertain, inform, educate, or to develop specific solutions or action plans.
- Keep the retreat's focus narrow and concentrate on just a couple of topics – it sounds like you are doing this.
- Establish ground rules upfront – example – off agenda items, day to day operations issues, etc. are off limits.
- Building follow-up action plans into the program and identify who will be responsible for following up after the retreat is over.
Law firms frequently have what at the time seems to be a successful retreat but after the retreat is over and time passes it becomes apparent that no change has taken place, action items were not completed, and partners believe there was little return on the retreat investment.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC