Goal Setting for Your Law Firm in the 2020s: Best (and Worst) Practices

The end of the year can a key time for firms like yours to evaluate past performance and set new goals for the upcoming year. It matters even more because we’re coming up on a new decade, not just a new year. To keep your law firm on the path toward success, you should be thinking about attainable goals not just for 2020, but also for the next five to ten years.


That said, success requires more than just a goal. There are both right and wrong ways to set goals, and if you go about the process in a slipshod manner, you could easily find your firm drifting in the upcoming years. Let’s look at some of the most common mistakes people make when setting goals, and what you can do instead.


BAD: Setting Goals that Are Vague

GOOD: Setting Goals that Are Specific and Measurable


You can’t just set a goal for the next year or decade to “increase revenue” or “bring in more clients” and expect that you’ll have any clear direction to reach that goal. How much revenue? How many more clients? Vague goals aren’t goals at all—they are intentions. And you know what they say about the road paved with good intentions. (Spoiler: It’s the road to failure.) When you set a goal, be specific about the target so you’ll know when you’ve reached it. If it turns out to be too ambitious or too weak, you can adjust it later.


BAD: Setting Goals that Are Arbitrary

GOOD: Setting Goals Based on Past and Expected Performance


Another common fallacy: Picking goals out of thin air. “Let’s set a goal to increase revenue by…um…50 percent next year.” Choosing a random target shows a clear lack of direction and poor planning, and you’re far less likely to reach it because you have no real map or mile markers. Here’s a much better approach: Evaluate your prior performance in that area, look at what (if anything) you can improve on, and use that information to determine what your future target should be. It’s okay to set ambitious, even aggressive goals (more on that in a minute)—just make sure the goals are rooted in actual data, not picked out of a hat.


BAD: Setting Unrealistic Goals

GOOD: Setting Goals that Stretch You


Some motivational experts recommend the aim-for-the-stars-hit-the-moon approach, meaning if you set goals that are way beyond your reach, even if you fail, you’ll still go further than if you set a goal requiring less effort. If that approach motivates you, fine; but in my experience, overly ambitious goals only serve to discourage you because you’re facing inevitable failure. I think it’s better to look at what you can reach easily, then set your target a bit beyond that—stretch yourself just enough to keep you motivated.


BAD: Not Reviewing or Revisiting Goals

GOOD: Setting Milestones and Checking Your Progress


If you set a goal and never stop along the way to review your progress, you might as well not have set the goal at all. It’s the easiest way I can think of to forget the goal you set and start drifting aimlessly. When you set a goal, try to map out a way to reach it, along with mile markers or deadlines over the next year (or five, or ten) to measure your results. You can then adjust your strategies, or even your goals, accordingly.


Whatever your goals are for your law firm, we can help you get there faster and more effectively. To learn more, give us a call at 888-207-2869.

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