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Written by Norman Clark
Published: 23 September 2015
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lone tree at night

A managing partner of a client law firm of Walker Clark recently told me, "The problem with our firm is that we have too many opportunities and too many good ideas. At the end of the day we are like dogs chasing our own tails." This is a frequent phenomenon in successful law firms.

You have great partners in your firm. Their great work breeds even better opportunities. Sometimes the "brainstorming sessions" become more like Category 5 hurricanes. This can be a happy problem on the surface, but it hides the serious risks, such as:

strategically courageous questions

In many instances, these firms with "too many good ideas" have lost sight of their strategic objectives and priorities. This is not to say that an opportunistic approach to the strategic management of a law firm is always bad; but it usually fails to produce the best sustainable results. As a result, the partners charge off to begin to construct a tactical superstructure without a solid, well-informed strategic foundation on which to build.

Often, the partners are unable to articulate clear and consistent answers to questions such as:

Perhaps the best first question of all to ask is "How will this action advance, in a clear and measurable way, one of our most important strategic priorities?" This sometimes takes intellectual courage, especially in high-energy law firms that are enchanted by almost every opportunity. Asking prudent questions can sometimes be perceived as not being a "team player."

This is why sometimes the best advice that we at Walker Clark can give to a law firm with "too many good ideas" is one word: "Whoa!"  

By taking time to develop clear, consistent answers to these questions, any partner can substantially increase the probability that the "next big new idea" will be successful.

Norman Clark