Tag Archives: business development

Why Bother with a Mission Statement?

Samira Mery Lineberger, Esq.
“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power.  Most people dabble their way through life never deciding to master anything in particular.”        Anthony Robbins

You’re a law firm and you basically just want to get clients and practice law.  You have an idea of what type of law you want to practice and what kind of clients you want, so why bother with a mission statement?  What purpose does it really serve?

As in the medical profession, the practice of law is becoming more and more specialized.  You may start off as a generalist, but at some point focusing on an area or areas of specialty may make sense.  Targeting in on either an area of law or a type of client can be critical to long term, sustained business development.  A mission statement may seem like a needless formality, but its development assists in bringing all decision makers in agreement as to the direction of the firm, and can surprisingly be a simple but effective tool in assuring that all activities undertaken are designed to meet the goals of the firm.  Many times, short term opportunities will appear on the horizon that will tempt members to loose focus.  While acting on a short term opportunity may provide short term benefits, resources are diverted away from what was already determined after careful analysis by the firm to be the most beneficial long term direction, and thus will delay or stall the ability of the firm to meet the goals and objectives that are in the best interest of the firm.   All opportunities should therefore be compared to the mission statement to determine whether they are in line with its stated intent.

More than just a nice statement gracing a brochure or business plan, the mission statement can be an effective management tool.  When utilized, it can make the difference between achieving your goals through focused and sustained efforts, and short term gratification through uncoordinated activities that achieve little long term benefit.

“Anyone Can Cook.” What Law Firms Can Learn From Ratatouille About Business Development.

Samira Mery Lineberger, Esq.
“If you can find collaborators whose strengths compliment your own, the result can be more than the sum of its authors.”       Walter John Williams

In the popular animated Disney film, Ratatouille an unusually talent rat finds himself cooking in a famous restaurant in Paris, guided by the encouragement of his mentor, a famous, well-published chef who is known for his assertion that “anyone can cook.”  The antagonist, an equally famous food critic, scuffs at such a notion, but eventually appreciates its meaning when he realizes that strengths and talents can be found in the most unexpected places.  We learn that it is the combination of the individuals working together that made that make believe Paris restaurant successful.  By utilizing the strengths of its individuals in the various roles they excelled in, together they were able to create a great meal.  Law firms today can utilize this concept in developing a great marketing program.

A common complaint I hear from many managing partners is that when it comes to business development, some people are just not trainable.  In some ways, this is true.  Being a great lawyer does not necessarily equate to being a great rainmaker.  While most lawyers tend to be good advocates, there is more to rainmaking than winning debates and being persuasive.  Business development skills can be taught to a certain degree, but excellence in such skills is limited to those whose natural strengths compliment the work that needs to be done to develop business.  However, if the activities necessary for business development can be broken into difference categories, such as networking, speaking, researching, writing, etc., the number of lawyers that can contribute utilizing their natural strengths and talents can be increased, and thereby reduce the burden on the few lawyers that have strengths that naturally match the bulk of the business development activities.  Rather than trying to train all the lawyers to do all things, lawyers should focus on contributing to the business development of the firm in the ways that are more suited toward their natural strengths.  Networkers should network.  Speakers should speak.  Researchers should research.  Writers should write.  With the collective effort of each lawyer contributing based on their strengths, they can all “cook” and produce something greater than the sum of its parts.