Leaders of small law firms are increasingly acknowledging that they need solid business management skills to secure their practice’s future.

Planning a firm’s future starts with setting goals and dedicating resources to achieve them. Aligning resources around your objectives moves goal setting from the aspirational to the accomplishable.

For many lawyers, strategic planning is overshadowed by day-to-day concerns. The reality is that administrative tasks – managing your calendar, handling client intake, bookkeeping and collecting accounts receivable – are necessary evils.

Whether these tasks are completed by you or a staff member, they have to be done. If administrative tasks overwhelm your firm, you’re not alone; 72% of firms say they are challenged by spending too much time on administrative tasks.

You can’t stop the day-to-day realities of practicing law to put together a strategic plan. But the resources that are consumed, the attorney time and staff time, are the most valuable assets the firm has. Find a balance between managing the daily demands and creating a more intentional direction for the future in order to make sure those resources are effectively utilized. Otherwise, you end up wasting your valuable time.

Developing a strategic plan underscores the need for efficiency in a law firm. Strategic planning around resource management includes seemingly tactical considerations, but mismanaging even mundane work can cause a ripple of inefficiency throughout a firm –  a problem plaguing 60% of small law firm leaders.

In addition to allocating time to develop a strategic plan, a financial commitment is needed to implement a successful one. Whether you need to improve your firm’s marketing efforts or expand your personal network, an investment will be required for association memberships, enhanced technology or outside expertise.

Consider these expenses part of your monthly budget. Just as paying your staff and lease are part of your monthly expenses, the money necessary to see your plan through should be part of your regular budgeting process.

Finally, as you set your goals and allocate resources, consider the dependencies in your plan. What needs to happen for this plan to be successful? In what order do things need to happen? Ultimately, what are the three to five larger items I need to accomplish to succeed at my stated goal?

Strategic planning will help you identify where you have imbalances in how you are using your firm’s resources. The sooner you address the imbalances, the sooner you can improve your firm’s business model and profits.

For more on how small firm lawyers can put a strategic plan into action, see Legal Executive Institute’s series on strategic planning and improving resource management. To learn how better allocating firm resources can benefit your firm, download the white paper, Is Inefficiency Hurting Your Firm’s Profits? The Curable Problem Plaguing Today’s Law Firms.

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