Setting Up Your Law Practice for Success in the New Year

Is your law practice ready for 2021?

If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that we absolutely cannot predict the future, and that our plans can be derailed at a moment’s notice. But believe it or not, that’s exactly why it’s so important to take the time to make a strategic plan for what you want to accomplish in the new year.

Taking the time to make a plan in uncertain times is important because the process of making the plan forces you to think strategically about your practice – to take stock of where you are now, where you want to go in the future, and what steps you need to take to get you there. You’ll get a good handle on information like:

  • Your firm’s core values
  • Your firm’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Who your clients are, where they come from and their most pressing needs
  • Your expenses
  • Your most and least productive employees
  • Your firm’s priorities

That means if the unexpected happens and you have to make adjustments – or even if you have a year like 2020 and you have to scrap the plan and start all over, you won’t be starting from square one, because you’ve already done the hard work and you already have the information necessary to see exactly which parts of the plan need to be modified and what to do next.

When you haven’t done the work and you don’t have a plan, that’s when you get into trouble because you have no idea where to start or what to do next.

To get your firm ready for 2021 now, make planning a priority – gather your data, set your goals, and outline the strategies and tactics you intend to pursue to reach those goals.  If you need more help, download a copy of my free 2021 planning guide here.

Strategic Planning with the EASE Method

When I recorded this video, we were on the quick slide down to the end of the year, and now we’re already almost 3 weeks into January. Either way, the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year is a time when many of us might be thinking about planning for the year ahead. Many of the solos and small firm lawyers I know don’t do much in the way of strategic planning because they either just don’t take the time to do it, or they think it’s too complicated.

But it doesn’t have to be complicated if you use my EASE method of strategic planning.

The four steps in the EASE method of strategic planning will make your planning a breeze:

  • Envision
  • Analyze
  • Strategize, and
  • Evaluate

Envision the Result You Want

This is the first step in the EASE method – Envision what you want the end result to be. This can be as large as what your firm core values will be, or as small as a goal to increase referrals.

Analyze Where You Are Now

The next step in creating a plan is to Analyze your current situation. Take stock of where you are. This is an important part of your strategic plan – if you don’t know where you are now, you won’t know where you need to go.

So if we take our small goal of increasing referrals, you first have to take a look at your referrals now:

  • Who are your referral sources?
  • Are you getting referrals for the kind of work you want to do?
  • Where are your best clients coming from?
  • How many referrals do you receive a month?

Strategize How You’ll Get To Your Vision From Where You Are Now

After you’ve taken stock of your current position, it’s time to Strategize. Take your vision or goals and identify objectives and benchmarks that will help you reach those goals. Create action plans with specific deadlines for completion. The action plans break down your objectives into discrete steps, so that you can move toward those goals.

Getting back to our referrals example, one objective might be to improve relationships with good referral sources.

You might

  • Create a schedule for referral communications with definite dates
  • Contact three referral sources per month and schedule coffee, lunch, etc.

Evaluate and Revise

Finally, our last E in the Ease method is Evaluate and revise the plan. Planning is an ongoing process. Do your goals still make sense as time goes on? Are you meeting your objectives? Why or why not? What do you need to change about the plan?

With the EASE method: Envision, Analyze, Strategize, and Evaluate, you can develop a working strategic plan to help you reach your goals in 2020.

I’m Allison Shields from Legal EASE Consulting, wishing you happy holidays and much success in your planning for the new year!