Begin with the end in mind
Do you have a grand vision for your firm?
A vision that encompasses:
- The client experience?
- The work place?
- The products that you sell?
- The people that you hire?
- The IT that you use?
- The process that underpins what you do?
- The value that you provide to your clients?
- How much you charge?
- How valuable you are to the firm?
My experience is that law firms give no thought, or not enough, to the end product, and how that is to be delivered.
Ask a partner for his/her vision for the firm, and you get a rather whimsical answer, portraying some mythical place where no other firm would dare to tread. But pressed a bit harder, and a lacuna opens up. They don’t really say anything that you haven’t heard a million times before.
If firms truly want to get better, grow and become more profitable then it is not enough to mimic competitor firms, even if they do have better offices or drive better cars. Instead, the partners making the strategic decisions have to have a vision of the firm that they wish to become.
Once that is established they need to agree how a firm like that would operate on a day to day basis. And finally, they would have to put in place the tactical machinery, people and operational systems to make their vision a reality.
This message comes through loud and clear in Michael Gerber’s superb book The E-Myth Revisited.
But, let’s be clear, espousing a vision that states you are going to be a Top 30 law firm in the next 5 years and act for 20% of the FTSE 100 is pretty meaningless. That vision is focused on growth. It tells me nothing about the aforementioned, and, particularly, how the client experience will differentiate you from those firms that are either just above you or who are already within the top 30.
Consider how a law firm would operate absent:
- Time targets.
- Fee targets.
- The perception that all non fee earners are cost centres and not profit centres.
- Allowing your clients to have credit.
- A lock-down policy for social media platforms.
Are these wholly unworkable?
Should they form part of your vision or are they merely operational issues?
You decide but, the point is, your vision has to be something that once embraced by everyone inspires you to greatness. Or to put it another way to be the very most that you can be.
The firm should stretch and develop everyone. Not that they become enslaved by the billing regime – the factory mentality – but they grow as people.
Just think what your firm would look and feel like if you spent as much time with your people talking about billing as you did everything else.
Don’t hold back.
Change, as we all know, is just around the corner.
~ JS ~