By Joyce Brafford

I was recently very fortunate to participate in Law Firm Retreats at the NCBA’s Annual Meeting in Asheville. As always, the Annual Meeting was jam-packed with interesting and educational programs. But Law Firm Retreats was a new program, and I wasn’t entirely sure how it would be received or what type of content to expect. I was, in a word, impressed. The Law Firm Retreats were moderated by Camille Stell, vice president of client services at Lawyers Mutual of NC. Camille spent her time as moderator talking about and initiating conversation around the future of law.

“The Future of Law” is a term that we’ve all heard, but the meaning can vary from setting to setting. For the purposes of Camille’s talk, the future of law meant strategic thinking for law firms. She went on to define four areas of strategic thinking: strategic recruiting, strategic planning, business development and future legal market planning. Each of these four categories has important implications for the future of your firm. But what do these phrases mean?

Strategic recruiting: the careful consideration of your firm’s present and future needs, and hiring to fill the gaps in your current staff to meet those needs.

Strategic planning: consideration of the current economic, political, social and technological climate and assessing how those factors will effect the achievement of your firm’s goals.

Business development: the assessment and development of referral sources which you systematically reinforce over a designated period time and with specific goals set at the beginning of the period.

Future legal market planning: analysis of trend lines in legal customers and legal needs in contrast with your current abilities, and the development of strategy to address needs you’re not currently able to meet.

In the next four parts of this series, we’ll explore each of these areas, and how your firm can rise to the opportunities facing the legal market in the next five to 10 years.

If you have any questions about how your firm can be prepared for the future of law, please contact me in the Center for Practice Management at jbrafford@ncbar.org.