For law firm leaders, continuing a firm’s success is about constant monitoring, clear vision, perspective, and the willingness to act.

Well-run businesses, including law firms, stay abreast of changes in the marketplace by monitoring shifting client needs. Successful businesses track the initiatives of competitors and seek to secure the premium assets needed to compete. For law firms, that means keeping clients, getting new ones, and preserving the talent in the workforce.

There are many ways to achieve this, but for nearly all law firms it includes staying focused on the bottom line. If a law firm operates profitably, it can be more responsive to its client’s needs, it can respond to its competition, it can innovate where appropriate and necessary, and it can retain its most valuable attorneys. Call it “staying focused,” “being on top of things,” or “keeping your eye on the ball”—each speaks to operating as if nothing is assured. Yesterday’s success is no guarantee of tomorrow’s survival.

A successful law firm is a busy one. New clients are landed, matters are opened, and legal advice gets delivered. The success enjoyed may be traced to the principles that drove the firm’s formation, the drive of the lawyers that came together as a firm, or a little of both. A brisk practice might also be due to increasing client demand. Whatever the impetus for the good fortune, few law firm leaders are naïve enough to assume that present success is a guarantee of future prosperity.

But if the fleeting nature of success is recognized, why do some firms fail to sustain the momentum they worked so hard to build?

Sustaining a law firm’s success, or even just ensuring that a firm survives, is a challenge faced by every law firm—every day of every year. And wherever the significance of the task is understood, focused and dedicated leadership can act and plan in firm-sustaining ways. For some firms, however, finding a way to continue the good times escapes leadership’s attention. And a struggling firm is an unstable one, less and less able to sustain its reputation and market position and increasingly putting itself at great risk.

Four fundamental lessons, if followed, can reduce risk and improve a law firm’s chances of surviving.
Continue Reading Thoughts on Building Long-Term Law Firm Health

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