War stories are usually about wars
fought in the past, not those to be fought in the future.
The word "agenda" traditionally is
used to describe a pre-established series of topics to be covered at a meeting.
Colloqually the meaning has been expanded to include individual plans for
the groups future.
The agenda of any meeting must consider
the firm's prime directive. If the firm is an "eat what you kill" personal
injury plaintiff's firm, an agenda that presumes a warm and fuzzy sharing
relationship will not lead the meeting to the results intended. Agendas that
fail to consider the underlying realities of the relationships of the individuals
that make up the firm will not produce progress, much less results.
From the perspective of an individual
charged with some element of practice development planning, the value of
an agenda is related to the control of what happens at the meeting. If we
use the administration / management distinction we've discussed, one of the
ways the planning process gets sabotaged is by delegating the planning process
to someone with only administrative authority and having the planning meeting
chaired by management. Management must support the planning process if it
is to chair the meeting.
There are generally two types of meetings
in the planning process: those where ideas are developed and those where
information is shared. In a law firm regardless of the billing paradigm, the
time when everyone is gathered is usually too precious to spend reporting
information. It is better to distribute written reports and use the time at
the meeting with a quick "executive" summary, soliciting and responding to
questions and then moving on to the "what this means / the next step" phase.
If it is "your" meeting, always consider
it as an opportunity to teach, an opportunity to learn or both.
Do not use a meeting to present market
or client research data or results. The data generated by any research project
worth its salt are more than can be meaningfully presented in a meeting subject
to the usual alternative activity and endurance limits of a group of lawyers.
This is especially true if yours is a fairly large firm that provides services
in numerous areas of the law. Use the meeting to introduce important conclusions
supported by the data and relevant to the planning issues under consideration.
For example, if your research shows that 45% of your firm's clients maintain
a professional relationship with a law firm or firms other than yours, talk
about what that means in terms of client cross education.
Advocates Management, Inc.
1332 South 26th Street
Manitowoc, WI 54220
Voice: (877) ADVOCATES (toll free)
Fax: (920) 684-4414
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