Every lawyer in private practice needs a business plan. I repeat: every lawyer in private practice needs a business plan. Whether you are a solo lawyer, practice in a small firm, a small cog in a big firm or minion in a practice area, it does not matter. You should make a business plan. Why? First, it will create a roadmap for future success. A plan will help you allocate your two most precious assets – time and money. Lawyers cannot afford to waste either. The plan will keep you focused and away from the throwing spaghetti against the wall approach. Also, it can help with recruiting should you be in the market for a new job. As a lateral candidate, law firms will want to see your business plan. So, lawyers – help yourself with a business plan.
Elements of an Attorney Business Plan
Business plans can come in all shapes and forms. However, for attorneys, we recommend keeping it simple. The plan does not need to be a one-hundred-page document. That said, we suggest including the following elements.
This is a fancy name for some basic information. This section should include details about your current job. Details may include your title, practice area, industry niche, and examples of your common legal tasks. For example, I am a partner at ESQ Law Partners. I am also Chair of the firm’s tax department where I lead a team of 5 lawyers and 2 paralegals. My practice focuses on estate planning and administration for wealthy individuals and families.
After discussing your current positions, you can include relevant previous work history. Like above, include title, firm/company, and tasks.
Lastly, add other leadership positions and community involvement.
Again, it does not matter what you call this section. The important thing is to explain your current book of business, your referral sources, your client service philosophy, and other related issues.
- Identify your ideal client
- List actual clients
- Include approximate yearly revenue for each
- Estimate future revenue
- Identify how the client came to retain you
- Identify cross-selling opportunities for each
- Compile other stats
- Total hours billed
- Other originations
- Non-billable contributions
Basically, this section is to identify all future opportunities. This is also where the rubber meets the road. Because identifying opportunities is only the first step. For each opportunity, you should create a clear path to realization. The path should include:
- Specific marketing tasks
- Time and money budget
- Process to monitor status and ROI
Do not let the brevity of these comments fool you. While you do not need to have that 100-page document, this section needs to include all the necessary details. Amongst the details are specific steps with deadlines and follow-up items. Very few opportunities are one and done. In fact, every opportunity requires a process. Document the process!
Creating your plan should not be an overwhelming exercise. Regardless, the effort is worth it. So worth it, I will repeat it again – lawyers, help yourself with a business plan. You can further help yourself by getting help. We can be that help. Let’s talk about your plan!