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“I was one of those weird kids who always wanted to be a lawyer,” Attorney Kathryn Burmeister says. And in high school ...
Whether you are a solo attorney just starting out, a partner at an established firm or somewhere in between, a clear vision and mission for your law firm provides the groundwork for a successful, enduring practice.
We all know lawyers who can’t articulate why they do what they do. It’s as if they woke up practicing a type of law that they never intended to pursue. Sometimes, an entire firm faces a similar lack of direction or purpose. This firm tends to trudge along, attracting and then losing indifferent employees and clients.
On the other hand, law firms that know who they are, who they serve and why they do it, tend to have the happiest employees, the most satisfied clients and the most successful practices. And they tend to stick around.
How can your firm become one of those firms?
Start by creating vision and mission statements for your firm. Then live them day-in and day-out.
Your vision statement lays out what your firm is all about. Your mission statement spells out the clients you serve and how.
Neither statement should highlight where you went to law school or your bar association affiliations. That stuff should be on your bio page.
Among other things, law firm vision and mission statements help:
If these things interest you, it’s time to create vision and mission statements for your firm.
Your vision statement is your dream for your firm’s future. It gives it direction and sets a goal that you can move toward.
Your vision statement should be clear and concise. It should capture the feel of your firm. It should also capture the hard data of your firm (e.g., anticipated size, number of clients, employees, offices, markets served). And, it should answer the question: “What will your firm, in an ideal world, look like in three to five years?”
When crafting your vision statement, brainstorm where you hope to see yourself, your practice, and your firm. Don’t limit yourself. Your vision statement should be lofty but achievable.
To kick off your vision statement brainstorming session, ask yourself:
Take your replies and craft a vision statement that will guide your firm. Though you should make your statement your own, here are a few examples to inspire you:
“We endeavor to be the leading immigration firm in the New York metropolitan area.”
“To serve underrepresented populations in Los Angeles County family court.”
“Be a pioneering, national law firm, serving clients across the United States in over 20 industries.”
A mission statement lays out how your firm will achieve the goals set forth in your vision statement. It answers the question: “Why does this firm exist?”
A compelling mission statement describes three things about your firm: its purpose, the market it serves and its values.
A mission statement is important for several reasons.
First, a compelling mission statement can attract more clients by helping you stand apart from competing firms’ bland marketing about “fighting for your rights” and “being aggressive.”
Second, a compelling mission statement can attract the right clients because the statement speaks to clients in a way that lets them know your firm is THE firm for them.
Third, a compelling mission statement will motivate employees. It encourages loyalty and buy-in from the entire team—something that is often difficult to achieve.
Just as you should brainstorm a vision statement, ask yourself the following questions to craft a compelling mission statement:
A compelling mission statement combines your firm’s purpose, business and values, such as this one:
“Our firm, with seven offices around the U.S., helps businesses succeed in our increasingly connected world. We represent small businesses navigating legal issues across the globe. We proudly serve the needs of our clients, 24/7, by creating solutions to their problems and guiding them every step of the way.”
If you don’t share these statements with your colleagues and your clients, they won’t do much good. And, if you and your colleagues don’t live by them every day, they certainly won’t do your firm any good.
But if your law firm adopts your vision and mission, you’ll be on the way to reaching your goals and creating a successful firm.
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