22 February 2021
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To thrive in 2021, the 5 things lawyers need to do to create a client and action focused BD plan

To succeed in any economic climate, it helps to have a solid BD plan in place. For many lawyers, without a clear business development plan in place it is very hard to grow revenue with the limited time available. Delivering great legal work for your clients will naturally be your priority. However, doing great work is no longer enough to be able to grow a sustainable practice.

Now 2020 was certainly not a normal year, and 2021 doesn’t look like it’s shaping up to be plain sailing either. The effects of COVID-19 will continue to be felt for a good few months, changing how we feel, operate, and how we do business. Globally, emotions are running higher than ever. This means to meaningfully engage with your clients, more than ever you’ll need a solid BD plan. It may be part of your Partner plan or other operational plans, but more than ever, legal practitioners will need to pay attention to their BD plans for 2021. To assist you with this important planning process, below are the top 5 things you need to focus on in the on-going ‘new normal.’

What to include in your 2021 Business Development Plan:

1. Start with a blank document

That is to say, initially at least, resist the urge to read and review last year’s plan. A lot has changed since January 2020! Beyond that though, if you start by simply updating last year’s plan, it will come as no surprise that you end up with a plan which looks almost exactly the same. 

The issue with this is that it means your plan will not address any of the current challenges your clients and prospective clients are facing. It may not even be reflective of your firm’s current resources or market focuses either. 

Therefore, either use an existing template you have access to or get one online, like this BD Client Action plan. The sections in the template should help guide your thinking

2. Make sure your BD plan’s achievable

There’s a whole host of acronyms around planning, such as the very well-known SMART goals. However, what is key, is to not overdo it. Therefore, focus on three or four goals that you can realistically achieve in 2021

One of your goals may be getting a speaking slot at a specific virtual conference. Or it might be winning your first matter from an identified prospective client. Whatever it is, the goals need to be both measurable and achievable.

3. Only commit to what you will deliver

If you are completing your BD plan because your Managing Partner told you to, or because your colleague did one, then there’s no point in doing it.   

To make your BD plan one you successfully action, it has to be a plan that you want to deliver against. Only commit to actions that you will follow. After all, in most cases in law firms and for most legal service providers you also have to deliver the work that you bring in. Therefore, only put in a level of BD activity that, given your other time commitments, you will actually do.

4. Map out 2021’s BD activities, in full

This is where highly detailed people can get very granular. List the number of meetings or video calls you are aiming to make throughout the year. This should be a mixture of existing clients, and also prospective or target clients. Define who you need to meet with in these organisations, and how many times.

If you’re going to run webinars, speak at events, or write content, then add this into your plans. Make it specific and commit to deliverable dates. This will help keep you on track throughout the year. It also makes your BD plan a document you refer to, and track your actions against.

5. Find someone you trust to hold you to your BD commitments

It is important that you respect and trust this person. And it needs to be someone you are comfortable receiving direct feedback from. Make it clear this is what you want from them, and ask them to hold you to account. These conversations will help keep you on track when you start to procrastinate, or when you have to do some activities you find uncomfortable.

Your BD plan is your ‘google maps’ for 2021!

Therefore, to succeed in the business of law in 2021, it is vital that you invest time and thought into your BD plans. If you get it right, your BD plan will be like google maps, it will guide you from the start of the year to the end of the year, safely. Even in these strange social and economic times, with the right plan that you relentlessly execute, your practice should grow, or at least come out the other side a great deal stronger.

Copyright © The Impact Lawyers. All rights reserved. This information or any part of it may not be copied or disseminated in any way or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of The Impact Lawyers. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of The Impact Lawyers.
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