Retreats Are For Every Firm − Large or Small

Kathy Fortin
Oct 20 2016

People sometimes seem surprised when I tell them Arthur and I hold an Annual Retreat.  They ask, “So, uhm, what do you do?”  The short answer is we work on those issues any growing business confronts that never get addressed in the regular course of a business day. 

The reason we hold our retreat is simple.  It’s because we care about our business and the clients we serve.  When I read iconic writer Wendell Berry’s Jefferson Lecture “It All Turns on Affection,” it struck a chord. Berry’s eloquent message is to pay attention to and have affection for our environment and our land.  For me, paying attention to our business is the motivation behind our Retreat.

Months ahead of our December Retreat, we begin to make notes of those matters of relevance.  Whether one idea might be to discuss the role for new administrative support or another might be brainstorming innovative ideas to help our clients, these issues make it onto our written Agenda.

The Agenda is a one to two page document that we both share in preparing.  It contains a list of the most pressing topics that can be adequately addressed over a day and a half.  We carefully select the Retreat location, weighing pros and cons.  A place that is too busy may create distractions from our purpose of focusing our attention on the plan at hand.  Choosing a site about an hour away from the office offers just enough escape from the pull of the everyday demands.

Our Agenda covers the typical arena of a financial review.  Goal setting talks include what we think is going well and what could be improved.  Generally, there are organizational considerations.  Working towards paperless files and materials is an ongoing goal.  Helping and satisfying our clients is our primary aim, so we always discuss the critical issues they bring to us and how we can better serve them.

Our Retreat concludes with a written Recap of our Action items.  We end our Retreat with a feeling that our time has been well spent and that we have done our clients a service.  We also come away with a feeling of optimism that we are doing what is necessary for our business to prosper.  

Retreats come in many forms.  Some might be quite different from the one I just described, but there are common factors; setting aside time and a space to focus on work of a different nature than the day to day.  Speaking from firsthand experience, I can recommend Retreats to law firms of any size.  I encourage each of you to think about how a Retreat might benefit your firm. If you need a facilitator, we are happy to help.