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Long-Term Planning

Attorneys Appearing in Court

For any business, long-term planning is an essential element to success. You need to position yourself for the future; growth can’t happen in all areas at once, so you need to plot where you want to put your resources in order to grow in the areas that are of the most importance to you. This is as true for small to medium sized law firms as it is for any other kind of business; setting yourself up to grow is the best way to create the growth that you’re seeking. This isn’t always easy, but there are a few things that you can keep in mind in order to position yourself for success.

One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to invest in your own firm. Think long-term; when you’re buying new technology, is it something that will last you years, or months? The importance of investing in tech that will help you for years is obvious; best to spend a couple thousand now and have tech that lasts years than to invest a few hundred now and another few hundred in months. This is as true for hardware as it is for software; you might want to opt for a cheap CRM program now, but if you don’t purchase software that will scale with you, you may find it difficult to transfer clients from one program to another. Take the time to research your options in tech, find the one that will generate the most value over time (instead of what’s the cheapest now) and opt for that.

Another important consideration; what kind of practice do you want to be? In law, it’s incredibly important to specialize , because it’s basically impossible to keep up with all of the changes a particular domain of law will undergo. Case law is ever changing, after all. Specialization may also afford you extra income, because people are willing to pay for expertise. Your specialty should be constrained to a particular area of practice, but not necessarily to a particular region; for times when cases exist in a courthouse outside of your regional domain, but not outside your area of expertise, there are experienced attorneys for local counsel you can work with.

One of the biggest and most often neglected keys to growth is networking. Networking is not just taking a business lunch, or shooting an e-mail; rather, it’s working to establish long-term relationships with other people. Your network is not a one-way street; you must develop reciprocal relationships with other attorneys and stakeholders. When you get a referral, send a thank you; when you have a potential client who falls outside your specialty, don’t hesitate to refer. Spend time with others, lunches, dinners, watching the football game together; anything to create real friendships. Networking isn’t a transactional game; it should be about fostering communication, respect, even love. That’s the kind of network that will enable your practice to grow leaps and bounds, and what you should be looking for.