Planning Ahead

Kathy Fortin

January 11, 2018

Whatever you have wished to do for your firm, the New Year is a good opportunity to plan ahead and avoid future difficulties or crises from ever happening.

Recently, we have seen signs along our major highways flashing yellow-orange with the words, “PLAN AHEAD -- WINTER STORM.” Police and highway officials wisely believe that the chance of danger is lessened if motorists think ahead.

The cautionary signs are meant for us to tune in to the radio or television for up-to-the-minute details of the storm’s location, snowfall amounts and other relevant information. We might zero in on the weather App on our phone for details. What we learn may affect our thinking and cause us to make scheduling changes. We might cancel our plan to be on the roads. You might decide to pack up your briefcase and work from home. It is possible you might reschedule an in-person meeting to a conference call or be able to avoid travelling during the height of the storm by moving up or pushing back an appointment. There are many options we are able to consider when we plan ahead and that is the intention of those road signs.

Ignoring the caution signs can put us in any number of several precarious situations. We can find ourselves in a nail biting lane of slow moving traffic or slipping and sliding beyond our control, battling poor visibility and, worst of all, be caught in a collision.  Even a minor fender bender can inconvenience our lives for weeks.

Our consulting work focuses on helping law firms plan their futures. We learn that many firms have believed their organization would run more smoothly if they had a plan. They recognize their management and decision making is reactive and not based on any strategies or a bigger picture. They know that a roadmap would make their professional and personal lives easier. The warning signs have been there and ignored.

Here are some specific examples that can help you to plan ahead.

  1. Create a vision and mission that will serve to guide the firm’s future for the next three to five years,
  2. Set annual aspirational financial goals for the firm and set individual goals for every lawyer and paralegal,
  3. Track financial reports monthly to assess productivity and revenues against the set goals,
  4. Establish policies that will facilitate hiring and make managing staff  more effective,
  5. Invest in technology to remain competitive, and
  6. Develop a Marketing Plan and budget for the year that will save last minute decision making or prevent missed opportunities.

If you don’t want to be one of those drivers dealing with the mishaps or crises that can happen if you have not heeded the warning signs, make a resolution to begin some planning and stick to it.