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The goal of every law firm should be leadership status in the markets (practices, industries and geographic locations) in which it has chosen to compete. As businesses with significant revenues operating in a highly competitive environment, most law firms recognize that they need strategic plans to help them

achieve their leadership aspirations. Strategic planning is the process through which the firm identifies its most important markets, agrees to a vision for achieving leadership in those markets, and develops and implements a plan for achieving the vision. It is how a firm decides where it wants to go and how it will get there.

Strategic planning is a discipline that takes time, experience and expertise. Ideally, the process is led by people who can devote a substantial amount of time to the task. Necessary skills include business acumen, strategic agility, project management, relationship-building, analytical expertise and a drive for results. Law firms that have succeeded in adopting robust strategic plans find that charging a team of lawyers and staff with creating the plan works best, sometimes employing experienced consultants as well. Recent surveys indicate that about two-thirds tap their chief marketing officer (or highest-ranking marketer) and the marketing and business development staff to be an integral part of the team. Partnering with other key staff groups, the CMO can help drive the planning process to completion, relying on the lawyers for substantive input but providing the structure and project management necessary for a robust planning process.

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