tree leaf under a microscope

 The phrase "big picture" usually comes to mind when one thinks about strategic issues.

This might actually be preventing us from solving some of our most important problems.

However, many of the most important issues that law firms face today actually involve a highly-focused concentration on very precise issues. While these issues usually have important long-term implications -- and, therefore, can be considered to be "strategic" -- they often demand immediate action to manage urgent short-term risks and opportunities.

Here are some examples of urgent, focussed strategic questions that I have been asked recently.

  • What should our firm be doing now to prepare to serve clients who will be moving into newly-opened markets, such as Iran and Cuba, in the next 12 to 18 months?
  • What should we do now to expand the focus of our energy practice to include a credible market position with respect to renewable energy?
  • We have an opportunity to acquire an outstanding tax lawyer and her practice, but she won't wait long for us to act. As the executives of some of our corporate clients grow older, could her tax practice support a new management and estate planning practice for our firm?
  • A "Big Four" accounting firm has just started offering legal services to some of our best clients. What should we do to respond to that challenge before we start losing clients?
  • One of our best banking clients has announced that it is reducing its scale fee for conveyancing by half at the end of this year. What do we need to do now in response to this move, which will surely be followed by other banks and real estate lenders?

The traditional answer from the academics and the consultants usually has been "You need a current strategic plan." Of course, a full-firm formal strategic plan can address these "smaller" issues. But what if you really do not have the time to write a strategic plan before you must take action? What if you firm simply lacks the resources, especially partner time, to examine your firm's "big picture?"

This challenge -- looking at the "big picture" while sharpening our focus on the critical sharp details -- is characteristic of the fast-moving, increasingly competitive world of today's legal profession. It is still important to keep your firm's "big picture" in view and continually test its accuracy. However, the ability to "think small," with clarity, precision, and with reference to a firm's larger business goals and professional ambitions, has become a truly critical survival skill, especially for most small and midsize law firms.

Norman Clark

Walker Clark LLC is well-known for our streamlined, high-yield Strategic Priorities Review.  But if there is one priority issue that has captured your attention right now, and which requires a quick, efficient, reliable decision, we can help you focus precisely on that challenge with our Strategic Focal Points service. For more information, please click here.