I have written about it many times. Client development activities start with a Business Plan. I guess what surprises me is when I learn how few lawyers have one that is valuable.

Why should you prepare one?

Time is a lawyer’s most important asset and you must use your time wisely. Preparing a business plan will help you prioritize how you spend your time, focus your attention on the important things and execute. With no plan you will find it easy not to do any client development efforts.

One of our most memorable anniversary trips was our 30th Anniversary Trip to Ireland. It was our first visit to Ireland. We’ve been back four times since, including last year.

Nancy spent at least 20 hours planning this trip for us. She decided she wanted us to go to Ireland and she knew why.

She wanted to go to Ireland because her family came to the United States from Ireland. She also knew she would enjoy the people, the scenery, the golf courses, the Irish beef cooked by French Chefs and the Irish Pubs serving Irish beer. So, she knew what and why.

Then she planned where we would stay, where we would play golf and the itinerary for each day. I like to say she did a top-down and bottom-up plan.


Her top down plan was looking at what she wanted us to do and where she wanted us to go. Her bottom up plan looked at how many days we would spend and what we could do in that number of days. Then she had a plan for each day we were there.

I prepared my business plan the same way and you should also. I start with one major goal. That is what I want.

It will seem funny to some of you but many years ago in the mid 1980s, I think I was making about $75,000 or so. I remember announcing to my partners that I wanted to make $150,000. I saw the look on their faces. It told me not one of them thought I could ever possibly make that much money.

I really wasn’t motivated by the money as much as I was motivated by what the money would represent. It was a way of keeping score.

I recently looked at my Business Plan for 1999. At the very top of it was my big goal for that year. I wanted to generate $3 Million in fees. That was a big hairy audacious goal (BHAG).

I am not sure whether I shared that goal with anyone in my practice group. If I did, I likely received the same look of disbelief. My plan for that year had many, many action items to do that I believed would help me achieve my goal.

I did not reach my goal that year, but I came close and I know I came closer than I would have if I had no goal or if it was lower. I did not do every one of my action items but I did do most of them. Two years later I brought in $3.3 Million in business and I know I was able to do that as a result of the planning and the efforts I made in 1999.