A Few Secrets of Success

Kathy Fortin

October 30, 2017

You can read about the secrets of successful people. There are also secrets behind the success of law firms. While knowledge, legal skills and professional talent can make an individual lawyer succeed, there are different ingredients behind the making of a successful law firm. What are those ingredients?

In my fifteen years as a law firm consultant, I have seen several traits that successful law firms share. Also, those firms struggling to achieve success often have difficulty in these following areas.


Effective leadership is the hallmark of every successful business, large or small. A lax leader or an overbearing one can engender lack of productivity among a dissatisfied staff resulting in chronic turnover. Most employees want to be led on a path to success. An effective leader leads by example. Treating employees with respect, communicating well, giving clear direction and rewarding them for their efforts are a few examples.


Good management can be almost nonexistent in some small law firms. Lack of express protocol, policies and procedures results in inefficiencies. Lack of goal setting and expressing expectations to the staff is a common mistake. Poor management affects employee job satisfaction and in revenue production.


Planning is paramount to any business’s success. Law firms that operate like other businesses tend to be successful. This means that they operate according to a plan. Strategy sessions, retreats and meetings designed to address key issues are an essential part of running a business. A business owner cannot expect success to come from continuously running at a hectic pace. They must stop to assess, ask questions, address issues and develop a plan that will guide them day to day. Making decisions on a proactive basis, instead of reactive makes decision making a smoother process. Without it, a business owner may react to situations rather than from a predetermined strategy.


Think of any business you know that has been around for two years, fifty or one hundred. Does it operate now as it once did? Businesses must change with the times. A business that operates as status quo or rests on its laurels will be left behind those that have not been afraid to made changes. Improvements, keeping up with the times, meeting clients’ changing demands lead a firm on the road to success.

It is important to remember that a small firm owner has many options to improve their law firm operation.  There will be more information including examples and anecdotes on each of these tips for success in coming Blogs.