Strategic Planning Traps

10 Law Firm Strategic Planning Traps to Avoid

In our highly competitive knowledge economy, a critical path to success is to out-think (innovate), out-learn (continual knowledge and skill development), and out-run (become a first mover in lucrative micro-niches) your competitors. Reinventing your strategy process and not falling into the conventional traps is not a ‘nice to do’, it is a ‘must do’ – and every improvement will feed directly through to your firm’s prosperity and partner career satisfaction.

If you couch strategy in terms of “fluffy positives” like vision, mission, and values, no one’s feelings are hurt, no one has to undertake the onerous work of analyzing the firm’s difficult challenges, and no hard decisions have to be made. Read on if your firm’s strategic plan comprises some of the following:

    • we will seek to enhance the value and level of service we provide our clients
    • we will strive to engage in more lateral hiring of good candidates
    • we will find more ways to improve the efficiency of the services we deliver
    • we will become more proficient in making our AFA and other pricing arrangements profitable
    • we will organise our efforts to obtain more work from our key clients
    • we will have our practice groups work diligently at implementing our firm’s strategies

To split from the pack you have to be willing to break the rules and not follow the conventional. As was confirmed by much of our law firm survey research, if you have any interest in “real” strategic planning, I tell leaders that there are a number of traps you need to avoid.

10 strategic planning traps to avoid

  1. Strategic planning that is focused on fixing internal problems
  2. Strategic planning that has a few wise elders going up the mountain to receive the word . . . and then having them invest enormous time trying to SELL it to their fellow partners
  3. Strategic Planning that does not eagerly reach out and welcome new voices
  4. Strategic planning that does not involve identifying and analyzing new or emerging trends
  5. Strategic planning that is obsessed with cost-efficiency
  6. Strategic planning that treats the firm as one homogeneous entity
  7. Strategic Planning that does not actively solicit the views of the clients
  8. Strategic planning that falls short of truly differentiating yourself
  9. Strategic planning that does not address how
  10. Strategic Planning that ignores WHO specifically is responsible to do certain of the implementation tasks

    This list is not intended to be comprehensive and is unordered of priority, however, they are ten specific traps that I recommend avoiding. Follow the link to access the full narrative for each trap on Legal Evolution's website.

    Patrick J. McKenna

    Patrick J. McKenna, an internationally recognized author, lecturer, strategist, and seasoned advisor to the leaders of premier law firms.

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