A successful and sustainable law practice will not happen by accident. If you want to create a book of business and cultivate a long term career in your area of expertise, there is no luck or magic fairy dust involved.
The attorneys I work with are usually senior associates or junior partners who are frustrated with the surprise realization that they are expected to develop business. Too often firms tell young lawyers to focus on doing good work. The first few years in Big Law all the work is handed to the lawyer and monitored by a partner. There is little ever told to the lawyer doing the work about how the client came to work with the firm. Billable hours seem to be handed out and there is little worry about where the next case will come from inside the firm.
But as a lawyer climbs up the ranks, there tends to be a bit more pressure about new business and finding their own clients. To many attorneys have to start their business development journey mid-stream. They all wish they had started years earlier (as it takes years to cultivate relationship that lead to business referrals, etc…)
When I coach a lawyer to develop a business plan, we spend time looking at how would they design the perfect practice. Some of this comes from looking at successful lawyers and reverse engineering how they built their book of business. Another part is goal setting.
To successfully design the career of your dreams, you have to become crystal clear on what you want. But this is often hard for a lawyer, as by they time they get to a stage when they want to create this plan, they have already been in their career for a long time and many decisions that have lead them to this stage were made by others.
This stage of creating a vision and design of your perfect practice, you must devote a lot of time to thinking through what each piece of their career really means. And by a lot of time, I mean several hours over several days. This cannot be glossed over.
The idea of “designing” your ideal law practice gets a little “woo-woo” for many left brained professionals. It’s cool. I struggle with things like this and am not teaching the “law of attraction”. Yet there is something bigger than all of us and if you are not clear on what you want, you will never get it. You must decide what success looks like and commit to the steps needed to get there. When you are focused and begin with the end in mind, somehow opportunities come along that help lead you toward success.
Take some time over the next few days and write out what your ideal law practice and life would look like in one years, five years, and ten years. Be very detailed. What will your office look like? What are the types of clients you will represent? What firm will you work at? (your current firm? or a different one? why?), What kind of car will you drive? Where will you vacation? Who will you share your success with? Write all this down. This document should be two to three pages single spaced. The more details you put in the easier it will be to create your business plan. It will also help you make decisions daily.
Thom Singer is an advisor to law firms. He also works with individual attorneys to create real business plans. To learn more about his “Business Development Coaching for Lawyers“, call him at (512)970-9398.