The Chair’s Comments
Article Date: Thursday, May 10, 2012
Boy, this one was hard. Ginny Allen asked me to focus my comments on business development from the viewpoint of a small or solo practice. I have struggled mightily to decide what to say without plunging headfirst into subjects about which I claim no expertise. I’ll leave that up to those learned folks who have contributed articles to this edition. Instead, I will simply discuss the advantages that, in my opinion, small and solo practices have when it comes to business development.
First, we have to recognize that business development and marketing are not synonymous.
Marketing is a part of business development, which I think includes the process of honestly assessing your strengths and those of your organization. It entails an assessment of the type of practice you want, the quality of life you desire, and the type of client you want to serve. Business development done well involves the development of your business, as you envision and desire it to be. This results in marketing that is focused on fulfilling that professional and personal goal.
Large firms certainly have certain advantages, including a large and diverse pool from which to gather input, broad areas of competency, and large marketing budgets.
But, in my opinion, those of us in smaller firms have two distinct advantages. The first is, particularly with a solo practice, a unity of our business and personal goals. No committee necessary. Each lawyer can self-assess and have direct input. It is more likely that the individuals and the firm as an organization will have consistent visions.
The second advantage is that the small firm has the ability to be flexible and nimble, tweaking and adjusting our business development plan as circumstances change. We have the ability to react quickly when an aspect of our plan is not working, and implement new strategies as innovative ideas come to us. The challenge for small firms and solo lawyers is to actually take the time to evaluate our practices, develop goals, create marketing strategies, and carry out our plan.
How does the small practitioner implement its business development plan without a large budget? It’s simple. By being lawyers--members of an honored profession. We must be visible, involved in our communities, offering our time and our talents where they are needed. Lawyers traditionally have held leadership roles in society, and we should continue to do so. We do this not only by holding leadership positions, but by being the type of professionals and citizens our communities need. Finally, we need to be proud of what we do, proud to be lawyers. We must not hide our light under a bushel.
As I close my year as chair of this section, I wish to thank my council for its hard work, commitment and dedication. I appreciate the assistance of the Bar Association staff. Most of all, I am thankful for all that I have learned from you, the membership. I certainly am no expert in the field of practice management, but many of you are, and I encourage your active participation in this section.
~ David Mills, LPM Chair •
David F. Mills practices in Smithfield and focuses on bankruptcy, civil litigation, and business law.
Views and opinions expressed in articles published herein are the authors' only and are not to be attributed to this newsletter, the section, or the NCBA unless expressly stated. Authors are responsible for the accuracy of all citations and quotations.