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Business Plans Revealed


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Business Plans Revealed
Business Plans Revealed

You would be surprised how many partners with major law firms do not have Business Plans and when they start looking into other law firm possibilities, do not realize they need one. For some reason, the thought of putting together a "big-B" Business Plan is very scary to some attorneys. In actuality, the Business Plan is probably an easier document to draft than the resume because the information needed is pretty cut and dry. This article is designed to take the "scary" away, by giving you the elements necessary to put together a successful Business Plan.

Why is a Business Plan So Important?

On the partner level, the very direct answer to this question is that the Business Plan justifies the high-end salary you desire. Partner salaries are certainly not lock-step and are many times determined by the business the partner originates. The numbers reflected in your Business Plan help firms effectively determine a ballpark base salary range. Of course, bonus structures and incentives vary from firm to firm, but the numbers in your plan give firms a good idea for the starting point. You also use the figures in your Business Plan to justify bringing over an associate, a team of attorneys, or requesting the firm to hire support staff for you.

While your resume describes your experience, your Business Plan describes your clients. When a firm is contemplating a new partner hire, one of the top considerations is if the attorney's current clients will have synergy with the new firm's practice. Can the firm support these clients? Do these clients have any conflicts with the work done by the firm or any of the firm's existing clients? These are extremely important issues and it's helpful for everyone (and a massive time-saver) to deal with these concerns on the front end of the process. The Business Plan is the tool that allows you to do this.

Keep in mind, a partner lateraling to a new firm is, essentially, the merger of two companies.

Breaking Down the Plan

Here are the elements that should be included in every effective Business Plan:

1. A short overview or summary of your practice, including the type of work you do for you clients. Remember, you do not have to repeat your resume or give a full length biography. Keep it short and to the point.

2. Collected Billings. Firms generally are interested in your collected billings for over the last three years. I think the most effective (and to the point) way of delivering this information is through a chart like this:
Year Origination Credit Actual Collections
2010 $312,399 $308,011
2011 $612,566 $566,923
2012 $829,917 $764,233
2013 (through May only) $544,821 $401,200

You will also want to include your billing rate, and whether this rate is flexible with your clients.

3. Projected collections for the next twelve months. You've demonstrated your history of collections, but how much money should a new firm expect from you should you lateral? Remember, this is an estimate. I cannot emphasize this enough. Firms do not expect that you know down to the dollar regarding your collections. A projection is not a binding contract between you and your potential new firm. This is your best guestimate based on the knowledge of yourself and your clients.

4. A list and description of your clients. Describe your current clients, the type of work you do for them and your relationship with the clients. The last part is essential and can be overlooked. Firms want to know WHY these clients would be portable and your relationship with them is the key. If applicable, you'll also want to provide brief insights as to how the company plans to expand or grow over the next year or so.

5. Marketing Strategy. Firms will want to know your "company" growth plan. How do you plan to bring in new clients? You might want to discuss potential new clients and the inroads or contacts you have within specific companies. You will also highlight any legal affiliations, board positions, community involvement - anything that could lead to the generation of new business. You should include speaking engagements (past and potential future), authored articles and any relationships with publications.

Business Style

There is no "right" way to organize a Business Plan. I have several example Business Plans that I share with my candidates that are formatted differently. Use a template that works best for you and your business. Keep in mind what the firm is looking for and present the information in a clear and succinct way. Make this information easy to find through the use of negative space. Feel free to bold, italicize, and underline important information.

It's of utmost importance that you present an accurate description of your practice and your clients. Your business will be right for some firms and not right for others. It is much easier on everyone involved to determine the potential synergy or roadblocks up front.

Partners Aren't the Only Ones Who Should Be Putting Together Business Plans

As the market is still skewed toward the employer, now more than ever, associates need to find ways to differentiate themselves. I sent an inquiry out for a third-year employment attorney and received the following response from a law firm, "Does she have business?" ?!?!

Having a Business Plan as an associate, even if you have smaller clients, demonstrates to a firm that you have a strong sense of the business aspects of law and that you have the ability to entrust the confidence of client. If you do have your own set of clients, a Business Plan is great tool to show your good "sense."

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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