The current economic climate has every law firm and practice group focusing on how to maximize resources, reduce costs and optimize partner performance. A recent article in the Wisconsin Law Journal titled, Firm retreats: Business over Pleasure highlights the changes law firms are making in traditional law firm retreats to focus on efficiency and cut costs.
The following are five strategies every law firm, practice group or Collaborative Law practice group can implement to increase the effectiveness and ROI for annual retreats.
- Start with a clear understanding on what the purpose of the retreat is, what do you want to achieve as a result of the retreat? What will be different? Why is this a good time to hold the retreat? And most important what do you want to make sure is accomplished by the end of the retreat?
- Spend time upfront understanding the critical issues and key success factors. Interview the partners or retreat participants in advance to learn what they believe are the most important critical issues and key success factors for the firm or practice group. Interview clients and referral sources to bring their perspective into the retreat. Summarize your findings into a report to provide a foundation for dialogue in the retreat.
- Provide each participant with an agenda, summary of critical issues and required preparation for the retreat. The retreat is the time to engage each member to understand the perspectives of others. Proper preparation allows for more meaningful dialogue and results in stronger buy in from all participants.
- Create a safe environment for unfiltered dialogue in the retreat. Communication and understanding leads to shared purpose and vision among participants. Firms and groups can achieve exponential growth by having a shared purpose and vision.
- Follow up on the goals and initiatives defined in the retreat. Communicate the results to the entire firm and hold participants accountable for agreed upon action items.
One of the most effective strategies you can implement for optimizing your firm or practice groups performance is to take a step back from day to day client work and bring your team together for a focused retreat that results in moving your firm or group towards your most important goals. This can be achieved through clarity of goals, proper planning, effective communication, accountability and follow up.