Raise your hand if you appreciate the importance of strategic planning but never seem to get around to doing it for your law practice.
Here’s good news: simpler is better.
In fact, a One-Page Business Plan may be all your law firm needs. Keep reading to learn how to create such a plan for your practice. Hear an expert walk you through the specifics of creating one at our free, one-hour “Managing a Law Practice in Uncertain Times” CLE webinar on September 28.
Running a law office can be a roller-coaster. While some of the ups and downs are outside your control, others can be managed, contained and prepared for. Join us on September 28 at 12 noon CT for the free, one-hour CLE webinar “Managing a Law Office in Uncertain Times: Practical Tips for Building a Solid Foundation for Your Law Practice.” See how a one-page business plan may be all you need. Learn safe and effective “scripts” for initial consultations. Receive a crash course in Law Office Budgeting 101 and Best Practices for client screening. Discover the “Dirty Dozen” list of clients to avoid. The webinar is presented by Gary Poole, a 40-year practitioner and mentor for new lawyers, and Hannah Chapman, a business and financial consultant for small businesses. Attend “Managing a Law Office in Uncertain Times” for a master class on how to maintain law office excellence through good times and bad. Register here.
One-Page Law Office Business Plan
Your business plan is the foundation of your practice and a roadmap for its future. A good business plan is action oriented. It organizes the key elements of your practice and sets specific, quantifiable goals (ex: open three new case matters each month; reduce administrative costs by 10 percent by year’s end, etc.).
A simple, one-page plan may be all you need for your practice. Here are three online sites that offer free business plan templates.
Here are some of the ingredients of a good business plan:
- What are your areas of practice? How much resources will be dedicated to each area?
- What is your firm’s Value Proposition? How will you communicate that to prospective clients?
- Who is your main competition? How will you differentiate your practice from theirs?
- What are your revenue and income goals (be specific)? What will it take to reach these goals? What is the target date for reaching these goals?
- How will you market and advertise your practice?
- How will you staff your office? Will you have a physical or virtual practice?
- What are your top referral and business development sources?
- What specific Action Steps will be taken to further the Plan? By whom and when?
In addition to your business plan, you should have a written office budget. Stick to it. Review and revise as needed. Determine how much money you should keep in reserve. Prepare profit-loss statements. Also important: cash flow statements and accounts receivable reports.
Practicing law is an art. Running a law firm is a business. The two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, when properly combined they add up to a stellar practice.
Business basics come first. This means laying a groundwork of best practices so that your lawyer artistry can flourish.
Business Planning Tips for Your Practice
- If you’re not business-minded, delegate. Find someone reliable in the office to track critical dates, conduct conflicts checks and keep the work flowing. Leverage case management and time billing software. Ask your assistant to keep you updated on important changes to the law. Outsource tasks you can’t handle efficiently in-house.
- Keep it simple. Develop systems and procedures that suit your practice – and that you will actually use. Don’t overthink things. The goal is to provide structure, consistency and baseline standards for serving clients and avoiding malpractice.
- Cover the basics. Good law office management covers everything from budgeting and HR to marketing and IT.
- Use checklists. They’re an easy and effective way to avoid mistakes. Develop different checklists for different case categories.
Do you practice in Wisconsin, Texas, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana or Michigan? Is your professional liability coverage managed through Alta Pro? If so, you’re automatically a member of the Alta Pro Risk Purchasing Group (RPG), which offers a wealth of benefits for your practice: free, cutting-edge CLE webinars featuring top experts tackling timely topics; the Pro Practice Playbook; the Pro Practice Blog; Reminger’s ProLink risk management assistance; Reminger’s Claim Repair Hotline; discounts on CLIO practice management software; tax savings on health insurance; and access to the Risk Pro, who can help keep your firm safe and successful. Register here and start enjoying your Alta Pro RPG benefits.