How to Develop a Business Plan: For Senior Associates, Counsel and Junior Partners

Posted: Oct 15  |  By: Alyson E. Galusha, Esq.

My mantra is that change is good for so many reasons. It is great to know that you can make small, or big changes to your life, that will pull you out of status quo and force you to move forward! Most attorneys are averse to change. Since most will resist change, the most successful people will use this fact their advantage. What is one way you can set yourself apart from other attorneys? Don’t just practice law but develop a business plan.

Does this sound like your life? You get up at 6:00 a.m. – have coffee – check emails from clients and partners – at desk by 8:00 (with 2nd cup of coffee) responding to emails and checking voicemail – work from 8:00 – 6:00 with restroom breaks and eating a cafeteria sandwich at your desk (and afternoon coffee) – get home at 7:00, eat dinner, checks emails, work a couple more hours and go to sleep. Then repeat.

You hope that all this hard work is going to pay off and you will be elevated to partner one day! How can you achieve this goal while you are working so hard and having so little time to work towards this goal? You need a plan! How and where do you start?

  • Schedule time to draft your business plan. Put it on your calendar. Start with a 1-hour time block and make it a repeating calendar invite.
  • Close your door and put the phone on do not disturb. If you can’t do this at work because of the distractions, block the time to do it from home at night in a quiet room with the door closed.
  • Start with a simple outline and use these tips below to create your Business Plan

Career Goals

  • Short-Term – next 5 years
  • Long-Term

Include practical and wishlist items – provide details on how you plan on achieving your goals and discuss the importance of building a self-sustaining practice and how you plan to achieve that. State these goals up front and refer to them throughout your plan.


External Activities – Indicate activities that you will personally undertake to accomplish your short-term and long-term goals. Some categories to consider:

  • Memberships
  • Leadership positions/associations/organizations
  • Seminars and presentations, you plan on participating
  • Articles and client alerts- include topic, target audience and target date

Personal Development

  • “I will undertake the following activities to help me develop my personal skills and level of professionalism.” Include a list of activities.

Business Development Activities

  • Client Development and Retention – identify existing clients whom you will regularly entertain by way of lunches, dinners, etc. – include company name and contact
  • Client Visits – identify clients who would be appropriate targets for inviting to visit your office or make a presentation about their business to the attorneys. Identify clients that you can visit to make a presentation to, on a timely issue of interest or concern
  • Cross Selling – identifying clients that you will introduce to another firm attorney for cross-selling purposes
  • Referrals – identify referral sources who you will regularly entertain by way of lunches, dinners, etc. Include the referral source and the activity
  • Prospects and New Business Development – identify contacts or other opportunities of which you are aware that would have legal needs, either in your practice area or outside of your practice area, from whom you will seek to develop business. Identify the target prospect, type of legal work and activity.

Attorney Statistics

  • Include a breakdown of your hours and collections for the past three years broken down by non-billable hours (business development, marketing and pro bono), working attorney billing and collections and client originations and collections. Include your hourly rates.
  • A simple chart broken down by Year, Non-Billable Hours, Working Attorney Billing, Working Attorney Collections, Client Origination Billing, Client Origination Collections.
  • If you do not have any originations, do not include that section. Just include your working hours, bill rates, non-billable hours and collections.

Now – schedule time on your calendar and enjoy. Think about how good it will feel to check this goal off your list! Our National Partner Group will be hosting roundtable discussions on developing your business plan. Stay tuned!


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