Well run law firms annually set aside time to plan for year-end activities and decisions.  In addition to using institutional processes, systems and experience to wrap up the successful (hopefully) year, most firms use that time to plan for the coming year.  Like clockwork, important decisions for the firm’s present and future have often been decided in routine fashion.

But 2020 and the looming 2021 are not like other years, and reliance on tried and true planning regimens and topics may be insufficient now.  Indeed, finishing out 2020 and planning for 2021 requires a fresh look at annual planning—a look that is best addressed now rather than waiting for late fall to scramble.

Making plans for year-end planning now requires leaders to add to the year-end agenda new topics driven by practice modifications forced by the pandemic.  While each firm’s issues will be different, the following topics are a non-exclusive list of subjects that might need to be addressed when the firm’s planning begins in earnest.

Client Relationship/service   Have your relationships with clients and how you serve them changed significantly?

Personnel Levels        Has the mix and number of people at the firm changed?

Space Requirements  Does a changed business model reduce your commitment to real estate?

Remote Working Policies      Do your remote working policies preserve your firm’s culture and help keep your talent?

Compensation Adjustments  Have already implemented compensation changes worked or are other changes needed?

Technology Investment         Is greater investment in technology required in light of the changed law firm model?

In Office Working Policies      Do your policies for working in the office make sense in a remote leaning world, and are they sufficiently safe?

Cash-flow and borrowing needs       Have the changes to your world required modifications to your finances, or are more needed?

Interim vs. Permanent Changes        Of all the above changes already made, which of them are temporary and which will be permanent?

The 2020 changes to the legal services market require a different kind of planning for 2021.  It requires a more thoughtful approach—one that considers whether changes made this year will be interim or permanent.  Are you ready for that kind of planning?