December is National Write a Business Plan Month. This is very apropos to my candidates and me. Why? Because, when working with a candidate, I require a written business plan as part of my rainmaker recruiting and placement process. In fact, I recently gave a presentation where I discussed the importance of attorney business plans. From a recruiting perspective, a business plan is a valuable tool when introducing candidates to potential law firms. It gives the law firm a roadmap on how the candidate will continue to be successful and how they will benefit the firm. Plus, the business plan educates my team about the candidate. This gives us increased leverage when negotiating the candidate’s wants and needs.
While we do not require a particular format for attorney business plans, each plan should contain several key elements. These elements are below.
The Executive Summary – think of this section as your bio or resume. It should include general information such as:
- Job title and job functions.
- Practice areas and/or industry niches.
- Leadership roles within and outside the law firm.
- Relevant work history.
- Community and charity involvement.
- Highlight significant strengths.
This section is all about your current book of business. The level of detail and specificity depends on the comfort level of each individual candidate. Some attorneys are comfortable divulging all client information, some are not. Regardless, the goal is to show that the candidate has portable business with a high likelihood of retaining it at a new law firm.
- Existing clients with the type of work, past and projected revenue, and cross-selling opportunities.
- Origination information. In other words, identify how this client came to you, such as a referral or marketing activity.
- Client contact information. Include all the individual relationships you have at the client’s business. For example, the CEO or General Counsel. Also, include how long you have known each and the strength of the relationship.
This is where the rubber meets the road. This section is to lay out how you will use your new platform to retain and grow business from existing clients and generate business from new clients. Here, you should include the following:
- Define your ideal client – be specific. Examples may include: multijurisdictional product liability defense for pharmaceutical companies, management-side labor and employment for middle-market companies, or trusts and estates for wealthy individuals.
- Define your competitive advantage. Why do your ideal clients hire you? Is it because of your experience, industry knowledge, personal brand, reputation, pricing, or a combination of these?
- Write the specific opportunities that a new law firm and its platform will bring to you and the firm. Perhaps you could not get work from a client due to conflicts at your current firm. Or, you have clients that need a national platform or services that your current firm cannot provide. The point is to put yourself in the best possible light. However, do not over promise or create unrealistic expectations. Again, the level of detail and specificity depend on the comfort level of the individual candidate.
Many successful attorneys that I work with already have a business plan. However, don’t worry if you do not. You do not have to celebrate National Write a Business Plan Month alone – we will help you create one.
Regardless of your plans to stay or leave your current law firm, creating a business plan is just smart business. As Ben Franklin said, If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!
So, if you have any questions or need help with a business plan, let’s schedule a time to talk.