Developing your firm’s business plan

Issue March 2013 By Damian J. Turco

An attorney's decision to develop a business plan for his or her firm is similar to a client's plan to complete their estate plan. Both acknowledged long ago that it's probably the responsible thing to do. They've each had a general sense of how things should go, but the task has always found its way to the back burner. It's kind of a curious thing if you think about it. We all engage in critical, analytical thinking all the time. Our clients literally pay us to think things through and set out strategic plans upon which we then execute.

We all sometimes make false assumptions and we generally accept that by investing some meaningful time in planning, we reduce the likelihood of failure and increase our likelihood of success.

We wouldn't think to engage in any degree of complicated legal work, like go to trial or negotiate a corporate merger or plan a multimillion dollar estate plan, without first setting forth a plan. That would be foolish. We could look incompetent in the presence of colleagues and clients. We could open ourselves up to liability. Our reputations could be damaged. We could waste a lot of time, money, and energy in the process.

Are you starting to see where I'm going with this? It is important to plan important things. And when you plan effectively, your chance at success - great success - substantially increases. In developing a business plan, you think through every major component of the business of your law firm, rather than leaving important decisions to chance.

Now that I've hopefully convinced you that you need to develop your business plan, let's touch on how. Developing a business plan for your firm just takes time, information, and focus. It's best done without distraction. Most plans include the following sections, although you can find variations with a simple internet search:

  • Business description
  • Market analysis
  • Competitor assessment
  • Marketing plan
  • Operating plan
  • Financial plan
  • Executive summary

Your plan will think through your firm's structure, goals, and how you plan to attain them. If you want to better ensure you actually get the plan done, sign up for the upcoming MBA CLE: Law Firm Business Plan Workshop, scheduled for 2 p.m., March 20, 2013. You'll walk in with ideas and walk out three hours later with your business plan in hand. One way or another, get it done. Your success depends on it.

Damian J. Turco is an attorney licensed in Massachusetts and Florida and the owner of Turco Legal, a Massachusetts injury law firm. He serves on the Law Practice Management Section Council, is a member of the Boston Inns of Court, and practices primarily in Boston.