lone tree on top of a hill

 As Walker Clark clients approach the end of 2016, which for most of them also is the end of their fiscal year, we have noticed a wide range of questions and discussions about the issues that they will face in 2017. Most of their concerns -- and most of the requests for our services -- at this time of the year cluster around seven common themes.

In many cases, our clients express these issues in terms such as "We have to decide what to do about this before we move into 2017."  This is especially important for small and mid-sized firms, which typically have less tolerance for management and business development vulnerabilities than do larger firms.


seven issues confronting law firm leaders and managers in 2017

Each issue is highly firm-specific and somewhat market-specific, and our list is not all-inclusive; but here are the seven most frequent general issues that our clients are thinking about as "must get right" issues for early 2017. They are not listed in any particular priority.

  • We need to improve or reinforce our visibility in a foreign market. (Asia and North America are the two most frequently-mentioned regions.)
  • We need a better way to respond to new competitors in our market, such as firms from outside our jurisdiction,  regional law firms, and non-traditional providers of legal services.
  • One or more of our senior, most productive, partners is planning to retire, and we are not confident that we are prepared to manage the transition, and its effects on our firm.
  • We must do something to improve the profitability of one or more of our major practice groups.
  • We have to do a better job of managing and improving lawyer performance.
  • We are having difficulty retaining our best associates (and even some of our best partners)..
  • We need to look for a merger partner or, at least, a reliable "best friend."

don't delay action until next year

In many cases, our clients express them in terms such as "We have to decide what to do about this before we move into 2017."

The best investment that your law firm can make as you approach the end of the year is to take an hour at your next partners meeting to discuss one question: What is the one thing that we must get right next year? 

The next-best investment that you can make, after having that discussion with your partners, is to contact Walker Clark to help you to plan and implement your solutions. Our Strategic Focal Point Analysis is a highly efficient, cost-effective way to address some of your most difficult issues, problems, and vulnerabilities, with specific actions and measurable results. We also have other services, advice, and support in areas such as succession planning, governance, compensation, and lawyer performance management, all of which focus on realistic solutions that are custom-designed for your firm. If you conclude that the time is right for a top-to-bottom review of your strategy or your management structures and operations, our more comprehensive Strategic Priorities Review and our Comprehensive Management Systems Review can help you and your partners make well-informed decisions and set priorities for action, frequently achieving significant measurable results in financial performance and profitability in as little as six months.

Don't postpone serious consideration of that "one thing" until next year. Start now so that you are ready to implement your solutions -- to start "getting that one most important thing right" -- on the first day of the new year.

Norman Clark