Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Three Strategic Planning Essentials to Make Your Practice Work

Have any of these things just happened to you?

1. I just graduated from law school and I have no job with anyone but me, a small law firm engagement, my dream job with a judge or BigLaw firm.

2.  I finished my first year of law school and still have most of my brain cells left. I have no job, a small firm engagement, or my dream clerkship with a judge or BigLaw firm (yay free baseball all summer!)

3.  I'm just starting law school in the fall and I have no idea why I signed up for this.

You can resolve each of these three situations with a simple acronym: PPM. In my environmental law world, it's parts per million, but do not get it confused. Rather, to make any business venture succeed, your PPM is:




You must have each component of PPM in your practice. It's a really good idea to incorporate these during law school, too, just to get into the habit. Warning: this is a short introduction; I'll cover these in detail over the remaining week.


You will never get anywhere without a plan. Feel free to leave your disagreements in the Comments section. The fact is, you are always executing your plan or someone else's plan. If you're executing someone else's plan, it's likely you're an employee. If you're executing your own plan, you either a very smart employee, or you're working on developing your own practice. 

Your plan doesn't have to be long. It has to be good. It has to be clearly stated. It has to be workable. Don't fall into the trap that your plan needs to have graphs and projections, unless you're a visual thinking. Your plan is your roadmap, not a funding piece.


Without the right people in your practice, it will go nowhere. I can hear you saying to yourself "I have no employees; I'm a law student/associate/solo." Feh. You need the right people around you as soon as you start school. Build a network within your class and especially with upper classes. Learn how to gauge personalities. As an associate in a practice, you can network with other people in the firm and other young lawyers outside your firm. 

The people you choose to be with is a reflection of you and your practice. If you have the wrong people in your corner, your practice will be a confusing mess. 


Money makes your plan function and pays your people. I hope you know that already. 

But you can bootstrap, seek investors, ethically seek sponsorships, and maybe even crowdsource to manage the bottom line. There are entire graduate programs devoted to raising capital, and I won't bore you with a crash course on fundraising (at least until Friday).

Today, just start with a plan.

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