In a rapidly changing legal market, engaging your team around a solid strategy is more important than ever. Let me facilitate your next workshop, retreat, or offsite to build a team or law firm strategy that will delight clients and accelerate your growth.
The legal world is riddled with forgotten strategic plans. Most are well-intentioned, but their execution fizzles out once they crash into busy reality of day-to-day work. Worse yet, some of them never make it out of the leader's head, lodging somewhere between a good intention and a guilty feeling over yet another thing you should be doing, but aren't.
Even the best laid plans often fall short for one simple reason:
Lawyers are really good at developing legal strategy for our clients: all of our training and experience makes us uniquely suited to that task. We even have clichés around the foolishness of people who try to manage their own legal approach without professional help.
So is a lawyer any less foolish when they try to plan their team's business strategy without an experienced guide?
Even if you have this business strategy thing down pat, however, it would be crazy to facilitate the strategic planning for your own team. Why? For one, when you are facilitating, you aren't participating; the work it takes to plan, moderate, and capture outcomes from a strategy session takes focus and effort. It is darn near impossible to be an active participant while you are trying to engage the team as well.
More importantly, if you are trying to develop a team strategy but you're the one controlling the agenda, it will be a challenge to get active participation and buy-in from the rest of your crew. Which brings me to an important point:
If you think you can hole up in a room somewhere to develop your strategy—maybe take a weekend to really plan and think things through— and then deliver it to your team to execute your brilliance, I have four words for you:
Good. Luck. With. That.
Strategic planning isn't something you do for your team, it is something you do with them. Because when you think you are doing it for them, what they perceive is that you are doing it to them. Again.
Getting your people to engage with your strategy with passion and understanding is darn near impossible if they aren't meaningfully involved in building the plan from the get-go.
Besides, no matter how much you think you know about your practice, there is no way you can know it all. What's more, you probably have some assumptions about how things are (probably based on your notions of how they should be), that don't jibe with reality. Your people, however, are a tremendous source of insight and experience from the front lines of your enterprise.
But when you're the boss, it can be hard to get those people to give you the feedback you need to make informed decisions about your strategic direction. Even when you have a good relationship with your people, human nature causes us all to perceive a power dynamic that makes blunt honesty a challenge. Folks you manage will tend to tell you what they think you want to hear, not what you really need to make informed decisions. But that dynamic changes when a neutral facilitator is running the show.
I very much appreciate the skill John brought to the workshop and the information he was able to impart on my staff—they are already asking that I schedule a time for him to come back because they want to learn more. We have hit the ground running since our session and are already instituting some of the tools that John taught us.”
Patrick Palace, Owner // Palace Law Firm
Engage your team to understand what's working well, what isn't, and what changes you need to make.
Develop high-level business goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound.
A visual framework to capture ideas, prioritize and refine them, and build them into a substantive action plan.
A proven facilitation method that engages all team members, including introverts, to bring out your best ideas.
While using tools to build your strategy, your team will learn how to apply them in your day-to-day work.
We turn your team's insights and direction into a clear plan for action, with defined steps and accountability.
John helped me get super clear not just on my business, but on its business model. He challenged my assumptions about our products and how I should market and deliver them, and helped develop concrete next steps for improving both of those things.”
Mike Whelan, Owner // Whelan Law Firm
Who: While strategic planning can benefit any team, a facilitated strategy workshop works best for teams of at least three people up to about twenty-five. That range includes small and mid-sized law firms, most in-house legal departments, local offices or practice groups within larger firms, and the leadership team of large organizations.
What: The format of the workshop depends on the needs and availability of the team, but can run anywhere from a 1/2 day conference to multi-day retreats or off-sites.
When: Many teams hold their strategy planning sessions at the beginning or end of their fiscal year to set the tone for the coming year, but there is no wrong time for strategic planning. Having the right plan is critical for teams that are:
JOHN E. GRANT // Attorney
I have helped dozens of legal teams develop and implement winning strategies for revenue growth, new product offerings, alternative fee arrangements, improved client experience, and employee engagement.
I've worked with groups of all shapes and sizes, from Fortune 100 in-house departments to regional law firms, and from consumer-based practices to complex corporate work. I help focus your team on the core drivers of legal value for the clients you serve.
I've spent years adapting the core components of Lean and Agile philosophies to work best in the legal industry. The teams I work with report smoother workflows, improved teamwork, better responsiveness to client needs, and greater peace of mind for team members and leaders alike.
The purpose of any strategy workshop is to assess your team's performance under previous strategies and engage the entire team around goals and tactics for the near- and mid-term future. You and your team will leave the workshop with a clear sense of:
Self-identified strengths and challenges the team is facing, with concrete steps to capitalize on the former and overcome the latter.
Your customers' value drivers and how to satisfy their objective and subjective sense of value.
Specific goals for your team's growth, throughput, quality, and/or profitability.
A core set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure progress.
Tools and action steps for implementing your plan and maintaining progress towards your strategic objectives.
I love talking strategy for law firms and legal teams. If you still have questions or want to talk about how a facilitated strategy workshop might work for your law firm or legal team, click below to set up a time for us to chat.
The most common time is either just before or just after the start of your fiscal year. But there really isn't a bad time to work on your strategy, especially if you haven't done it in a while or when you've identified new opportunities or obstacles.
Many teams elect to hold their strategy planning as part of a retreat or off-site, but that isn't strictly necessary. What's important is that you have a large-enough room with lots of empty wall or white-board space for brainstorming.
Strategic planning works best when multiple stakeholders come together with a broad range of perspectives and ideas. I encourage you to involve your whole team if possible, or at least a substantial cross-section of its make-up.
The cost will depend on your session's duration and structure, but the most important factor is your budget. We can structure a facilitated session to meet your specific needs and constraints.