Last week I received a question from a mid size law firm with 65 partners that I felt may be a familiar question for executive directors, managing partners and law firm CEO’s. The question was
“The partners have a common mission, but not much of a unified vision for the future or a clear sense of what we value. Do you have suggestions?”
Upon further investigation I learned about the firm’s situation and source for concern regarding the lack of a shared vision. The firm was experiencing significant growth and acquiring smaller firms in the same area of law. Although the acquisitions were profitable, the lack of cohesion among the partners was causing internal conflict, delaying important decisions and limiting the firm’s growth opportunities.
Without a common goal for where the firm was headed, it was difficult to bridge the gap between differing opinions on where the firm should devote valuable and limited resources.
When resources and time are limited, creating a shared law firm vision is not often viewed as a top priority. However, lack of alignment around a shared vision is at the root of reduced productivity, decreased profitability and diminishes the opportunity for attracting top talent.
The following are strategies for creating a shared vision:
- Schedule a law firm retreat. Require all equity partners to attend.
- Prepare in advance for the retreat. Clarify the retreat purpose and most important goals.
- Assign homework prior to the retreat to identify the firm’s critical issues and commonalities.
- Create a safe environment for constructive dialogue in the retreat.
- Follow up on the goals and initiatives defined in the retreat.
- Educate all employees on the firm’s shared vision and their role in achieving success.
My recommendation is to take a step back from the day to day demands of urgent/important activities and ask yourself the following questions:
- When was the last time your partners came together to dialogue about your shared vision for the firm’s future?
- How is your internal structure aligned to support your most important goals? What does success look like?
- How are you leveraging your firm’s vision to attract top talent and to differentiate your law firm in a competitive legal market?
Let me know if spending the time creating a shared vision is considered a valuable use of time. If so, what are the challenges your firm is confronted with to create a shared law firm vision?