Historically, the legal profession has been more adversarial than collaborative. However, both large and small firms are learning about the benefits of collaboration. Collaboration can cause your solo or small law firm to grow and thrive, and an unwillingness to collaborate can be the demise of your practice. Collaboration for solo and small firms is akin to a never-ending game of chess. Some of the most seasoned solo and small firm practitioners can lose sight of the fact that, much like a game chess, the following strategies are critical to your success:
1. Everyone in your professional networks plays a role – know how to utilize your resources wisely. In chess, you have 6 different types of pieces on the board, each with specific rules on how they move and can be played in the game. In your practice, you will encounter many different people, organizations and resources. It is critically important to know the power, strength and capacity of each person in your professional network. Solo and small law firms should seek out opportunities to collaborate with other small, medium and large firms that can bring additional resources to the table, including support services, practice area experts and cross marketing/branding opportunities. Equally important is collaborating with providers of the types of wrap-around services that solo and small firm clients need, including financial institutions, certified public accountants and public relations/marketing firms.
2. You have to P.A.C.E. yourself. The longest game of chess lasted 269 moves and over 20 hours to complete. This is mainly attributable to the fact that chess requires to plan and strategize in advance of your next move. Some of the most skilled chess players plan their strategies dozen of moves in advance. Chess requires two things: strategy and time. Some might describe it as a marathon - not a sprint, and in any marathon you have to P.A.C.E. yourself. Successfully and efficiently operating your firm is just like pacing yourself for a marathon.
3. Every square counts. This last principle is the simplest, yet the most powerful. In chess, every square counts. Every former co-worker, every connector, every job, every opportunity, every experience, every stuggle, every sacrifice, every tool counts. The challenge for small firms and solo practitioners remains grasping and understanding of how each square applies. Steve Jobs once said that you can't connect the dots looking forward - you can only connect the dots looking back. Many times we can't see how much these squares of prior experience are worth, but these squares are often tools of motivation, inspriration and success.
No collaboration – no checkmate!
Written by: Jade Russell, Solo & Small Firms Committee Chair