A strategic planning retreat is an excellent vehicle for a law firm to address issues such as the development of a long range business plan. If your firm is among those which have made unsuccessful attempts at having planning retreats, or if you’re over­whelmed simply by the thought of the time and effort which would be involved in planning and organizing the program, why not consider retaining an outside person to act as the facilitator for your retreat?

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Having a planning retreat using an experienced facilitator can be of great assistance in the process of arriving at a consensus as to the directions and goals of a firm, in several ways. First, someone experienced in the planning process can help keep the discussions on a positive, constructive basis, and help prevent the discussions from degenerating into a negative, destructive confrontation between the partners, which so often happens when firms try to do it themselves.
Secondly, if you have been too busy in the past to do any long-range planning, it follows that you probably will always he too busy to put together a program for the retreat. Using an outside facilitator will relieve you of the burden of putting the program together. An experienced facilitator should also be able to do a better job by drawing on his or her experience in working with other law firms.
Third, the use of an outside facilitator should help secure the full participation by all partners on an equal basis. It should also help to avoid having one or more partners dominate the discussions.
One of the reasons many law firm retreats are unsuc­cessful is the failure to adopt goals which are both specific and measurable. The facilitator’s skill and experience are extremely important in helping a firm to decide upon specific, measurable goals. If the facilitator has done a good job, the partners should he able to look back in six months or a year and say yes, they did accomplish a goal, or no, they did not.
Bob Henderson
RJH Consulting ©

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