Is Strategic Planning Relevant in the Covid-19 Age?

Strategic planning provides a framework to make choices about how your law firm allocates its resources to maintain and improve upon its success. Yes, I know many of you are probably thinking, “We’re still fine-tuning how to get work done from home and the best ways to interact with clients. I can’t plan beyond a few days ahead, let alone a few years.”

I hear you. I’m penning this post in May, after two months of being on lockdown. A great deal of uncertainty remains about how and when the economy will reopen. But it will reopen. Your law firm requires a plan to handle what comes next—not just for the next month or two, but for the next several years. Here’s why.

People and Businesses Will Still Require Legal Services

The good news is this: There will always be a demand for lawyers. Sure, some practice areas have taken (and will continue to take) a bigger hit than others. But society needs us. Even the most “doom and gloom” folks will usually concede that.

Additionally, you don’t need to be a genius to foresee the basic impact this pandemic will have on many practice areas. While no one can predict with any accuracy the impact’s timing and extent, trends nevertheless can be predicted. For example,

  • Demand should increase for estate planning and elder law services.
  • Divorces are not only not going away, but many predict the practice will grow as a consequence of couples spending way too much time together.
  • Bankruptcies will increase at a great amount.
  • Businesses of all sizes will continue to have day-to-day legal issues to resolve, but there will be fewer.

I could go on, but I think my point is clear. We’re not going away.

So what does all of this mean for strategic planning? Plenty. Remember, at its core, strategic planning is assessing resources and prioritizing needs. How is that all of a sudden irrelevant?

Use This Time Wisely

During World War II, Winston Churchill once remarked, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” For some firms, this pandemic may create a more conducive environment for strategic planning.

In my experience, planning typically brings to the forefront issues that have been festering for years. For political reasons, these issues couldn’t even be discussed, let alone resolved. Examples of such issues include:

  • What happens when our aging leader, who also happens to be our biggest rainmaker, finally lets go of the reins?
  • Why are we still in this practice area when it has consistently been less profitable the others?
  • Why doesn’t our compensation system have better incentives?

Some of these tough conversations may now be partially blamed on COVID-19, thereby making some decisions more palatable for all.

Your Best Next Step Is to Simply Get Started

Stephen Covey famously said, “Begin with the end in mind.” So, where do you want your law firm to be within the next two-to-four years?

Of course, once you have a plan in place, you may need to make more updates or revisions than normal due to the pandemic. But at least your firm can move forward with more confidence due to your renewed sense of “the end in mind.”

The Best Time to Plan Is Now

Would you throw out your GPS just because you lost coverage and you aren’t sure when and how strong coverage will be when it returns? Of course not. Similarly, now isn’t the time to throw out the concept of strategic planning.

The level of uncertainty in our profession is as high as it’s ever been in recent memory. If you’re feeling uncertain or anxious, just repeat after me: “We are not going away.” Your firm still needs a roadmap. Revisit and refine your long-term strategies now.

Categories: Practice Management
I am a partner in a large law firm and have a seven figure book of business. The competition today is brutal for corporate clients. I can no longer rely on getting clients simply from internal referrals or based on my firm’s reputation. I need…" Read the rest
– Partner, large Kansas City, MO law firm

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