"Everything you've been told about building
an injury law practice is wrong"

How to Plan for Your Law Firm’s Success

How many lawyers take time to think strategically about their law firm’s future?  Okay, perhaps a few, but how many lawyers set aside time to think strategically with their staff at regularly scheduled meetings?  Just about none and that’s a damn shame.

98% of lawyers spend their time handling one emergency after the next and never stop to think where they’re going.  Strategic planning is the #1 factor that differentiates thriving law firms from those just trying to keep their head above water.  Is there anything more important than quarterly strategic planning for your law firm?

But where do you get started and what do you discuss at quarterly strategic meetings?  At our last quarterly strategic meeting, we discussed the following 3 topics:

#1:  What Can We Do Better?

#2:  Our Rallying Cry for the Next 90 Days

#3:  Our Dream Manager Initiative

Once we discuss these topics, they are summarized in a memo and we meet once a month to discuss our progress towards our quarterly goals.  Are we perfect?  Far from it, but we’re taking action once a quarter to plan our future and make small, incremental improvements in our systems.  The quarterly strategic meetings keep our team aligned toward common goals and we revisit our goals monthly to make sure we’re on track.

Perhaps you can use the agenda from our last quarterly strategic meeting to give you some ideas for your first quarterly strategic meeting. Here’s a few ideas:

                                                                                          Part I

                                                                         What Can We Do Better?

ACTION ITEM: Write down one thing that each of the other team members do that makes the team better (not technical skills—the way they behave when the team is together)

“Getting better comes in small, steady increments.”

Mark Sanborn, Fred 2.0

What can we do as a law firm to improve?

ACTION ITEM:  Write down one aspect of each person that sometimes hurts the team.

“Each day is a chance to try again—to be better than the day before.”

Mark Sanborn, Fred 2.0

ACTION ITEM: Go around the room asking everyone to report on the leader’s one positive characteristic; then, report the one characteristic that the leader needs to improve on.

Examples of Potential Areas of Improvement:

Exemplar Letter to defense: “Tell us if there is any outstanding discovery by fax at least 3 days before the court conference. If we do not receive a response from you, we will assume you have all discovery from the plaintiff and you are ready to schedule depositions.”

Getting feedback from clients:  Ask our clients: (a) What do you want from us? (b) What do we do well? (c) What could we do better. Your clients won’t tell us unless they’re asked.  Get feedback from clients after every case—good and bad. For good reviews, get a video testimonial.

Keeping Clients Informed: Client portal on website for instant access to complete file.

Showing appreciation to our clients: Client appreciation party every year.

Birthday and Anniversary Cards for Clients:  Sendoutcards.com with custom photos and signatures

                                                                                          Part II

                                                             Our Rallying Cry for the Next 90 Days

“If members of a leadership team can rally around clear answers to these fundamental questions, they will drastically increase the likelihood of creating a healthy organization.”

Patrick Lencioni, The 3 Big Questions for a Healthy Family

ACTION ITEM: Why do we exist?

ACTION ITEM: How do we behave?

ACTION ITEM: What do we do?

ACTION ITEM: How will we succeed?

ACTION ITEM: What is most important right now?

  • One goal per month.

ACTION ITEM: Who must do what?

ACTION ITEM:  If we accomplish just one thing—our rallying cry–in the next nine months, what should it be?

  • Our rallying cry for the next 90 days
  • “I will clearly post my objectives for easy reminding.” Patrick Lencioni, The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family
  • Our Strategy: “Acquiring High Quality Referral Partners

“The most common problem we find in companies is that they don’t have a strategy at all.”

Patrick Lencioni, The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family

ACTION ITEM:  Defining our core values

“One of your greatest allies is simplicity.”

Mathew Kelly, Building Better Families

                                                Our 6 Core Values (NOW): simple, basic and REAL

#1:  We only handle catastrophic injury cases,

#2:  We never agree to confidential settlements,

#3:  We do not accept cases having questionable merit,

#4:  We are not afraid of making mistakes,

#5:  We strive for continuous improvement, and

#6:  We are transparent and brutally honest with our clients.

“The purpose of a company is to differentiate a company.”

Patrick Lencioni, The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family

                             Our 10 Core Values (BEFORE): aspirational, forgettable and NOT REAL

#1: We limit our practice to catastrophic injury law for injury victims,

#2: We do not accept cases that have questionable merit,

#3: We accept very few cases,

#4: We always put our clients’ interests first,

#5: We treat our clients like family,

#6: We do the right thing,

#7: We do what we say we’ll do,

#8: We practice open, real communication,

#9: We check our egos at the door, and

#10: We invest in continuous improvement.

ACTION ITEM:  How will we use our Core Values and keep them alive?

                                                                                         Part III

                                                                 Our Dream Manager Initiative

ACTION ITEM:  Write out a description of what you want your life to look like five years from now. Be as specific as possible.

ACTION ITEM:  Make a list of all the things that are “should do’s” and identify which ones are important enough to be converted into “How will I do’s?”

ACTION ITEM:  Make a vision board by cutting out inspiring images from magazines and pasting them on a poster board.  This board is meant to inspire you.

ACTION ITEM: Write out a detailed schedule of what your ideal week would look like right now and also what your ideal week would look like in five years

ACTION ITEM: Make a list of five things you know you could do (no matter how small) that would begin you down the path toward your dream







photo credit: DSCF0290 via photopin (license)

Leave a comment below telling me what surprised, inspired or taught you the most (I personally respond to every comment). And if you disagree with my take on running a personal injury law firm, or have a specific, actionable tip, I’d love to hear from you.