Past success does not guarantee survival.

Past success does not guarantee survival.

Today the Law Society Gazette reports that a well-regarded century-old Sheffield law firm, Ashton Morton Slack, LLP, has failed. The firm had five equity partners and 67 staff, and was a general service law firm. The firm cites falling fee revenues and rising overheads as the major causes of a fatal cash-flow crisis.

This is undoubtedly true, but I believe that Ashton Morton Slack did not fail because of bad management, but instead because of poor strategic vision.

It has been my observation over the past two years that an alarming number of partners in small and midsize law firms have been relying too much on past success to pull them through the seismic changes that occurring in many of their markets.

These are the usually same partners that dismiss strategic planning as unnecessary or as an exercise only for big firms.

Small and midsize law firms need serious strategic plans perhaps even more than their larger competitors. Lacking the resources that big firms enjoy, small and midsize firms are particularly vulnerable to the changes are sweeping many sectors of the legal market - and are sweeping away long-established law firms that preferred business as usual.

Read more on the Walker Clark Worldview Blog.