The big challenge for newbie lawyers has always been filling in the gap between what they learnt in law school and what they need to know in the real world about running a law firm. Specifically, running a law firm like a business.
The truth is law schools have been a little slow in understanding that there’s a major difference between running a law firm and running a law business. Thus, lawyers need information on aspects of how to grow and run a business and an understanding what it takes to successfully manage their own law firm.
While it’s not rocket science to master the business side of owning a law firm, it does require discipline and, most importantly, a shift in the way you see and operate your practice.
The first and most important question you should ask yourself is “What is the Vision for my Practice?”
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All the ‘Big Guns’ in the corporate space like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and other majorly-successful businesses, have one thing in common –they have a vision for their business. They know what the business can be, they know where they want it to go, and they know how they’re going to get there.
Unfortunately, most Law firms are not crystal clear of their vision. In fact, very few lawyers have even given it any kind of thought. They just open up for business and assume that clients will come to them, and they’ll make some money, and that’s it.
Unfortunately, the “If you build it, they will come” law practice is a thing of the past. Today’s increased market competition from online legal resources and savvier lawyers in their own markets, coupled with pickier and more educated clients, means that every customer should be treated like gold. And ‘mined’ as such accordingly.
Just like every successful business out there, you MUST have a roadmap to follow when you make business decisions, when you plan for growth, when you hire, when you create a great client experience, when you identify new opportunities; you MUST have a vision when you’re determining how best to spend money to benefit the business and its clients, and so much more.
This roadmap is called a business plan. And every successful business plan starts with a vision for your practice.
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To meet the requirement for business success, this road map must be answering ALL of the following questions:
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in practice for a month, or 5 years, or 20 years. If you do not have a business plan, this is exactly the right time to start working on one. It will serve as much-needed guidance when you are making business decisions. With each decision, ask yourself: “Is this taking me towards my goals or away from them?”
This simple question should help make the decision-making process much easier—and more impactful.
In the end, how exactly your vision is structured and what your business plan contains is slightly less important than having them in the first place. Many of your legal competitors have neither, and you’ll find that developing both—and sticking to them—will set you above the fray and put you on the path to long-term success.