Working day-to-day through the week, it is easy to get lost in the list of tasks that come your way. Return that call. Make that appointment. Pick up the dry cleaning. Schedule that meeting. What is harder is to stay on top of the big-picture items like defining and following your business strategy and setting goals for the future development of your firm. Meeting your responsibilities and serving your clients is critical. It’s also critical to remember that business planning for lawyers should never be overlooked. But, how do you decide where your law practice is going, and where you want it to go. Read on for our take on setting goals for lawyers:
Business Planning for Lawyers
Step One: Set Goals. Ask yourself: What do I want to achieve this year? Next year? In the next five and ten years? Your answer will be influenced by where you are in your practice and in your career today. After all, if you are just starting out, you will have different goals and need different strategies than if you are heading an established firm after 30 years of practicing law.
While goals for lawyers need to be attainable, they also have to challenge you and be worth setting. Write them down. There is no value in setting a goal that you were going to achieve or one that you won’t remember.
Step Two: Set Objectives. Assume that your goal is: Grow my business. How will you do this? This is your chance to decide what works best for you. Objectives have to be definable; they should be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. If you are growing your business, here is where you define how, by how much and by when. In other words, Grow my business as a goal becomes Increase lead conversion on a Q1 digital marketing campaign by 10% over last year. By defining a SMART objective, you have a way to grow your business, a target that defines success, and a timeframe in which to accomplish the objective.
Step Three: Set Action Plans. While goal-setting and forming objectives are both important, you need to set some concrete steps to reach your targets. How will you increase the number of leads who actually hire you through your digital marketing efforts? How will you improve your digital marketing campaigns from last year? Maybe you will hire a content strategist to review the content in your campaigns, or invest in a CRM to add some structure to your campaigns. Maybe you will hire a marketing agency and outsource some of your marketing function. The answers will depend, again, on where you are in your practice and your career.
Now that you have goals, objectives and some tactics on how to achieve them, it is time to put them in action. Here, you will do best if you prioritize them, and decide how to allocate your resources across these initiatives. It is also important, as the year progresses, to revisit these goals, objectives and action plans regularly so you will not only know where you are in reaching these goals, but also if you need to course-correct based on new realizations about the goals or based on changes to your business.