Business Plan Advice

This information has been taken from a published article by Richard Park and it covers the important areas to cover in a law firm, partner, business plan:

“I have seen many excellent business plans/papers and I would personally advise on the following format:

  1. INTRODUCTION – An introduction to the business plan (the purpose of the document);
  2. PROFILE(S) – A profile of the partner or partners (plus any other more junior team members). This does not need to be as detailed as a full CV, but a strong profile is a good idea;
  3. CURRENT PRACTICE/BUSINESS – (client examples on a no-name basis where appropriate);
  4. FINANCIAL INFORMATION – (usually the last three years figures), broken down by wider client partner billings (broken down further to include work referred out elsewhere in the firm) and personal billings. If moving as part of a team, ideally the revenue should be broken down by each team member, charge out rates (for the lead partner and each team member – at this stage it would also be useful for our clients to see the individual current salaries of the team members) and in some cases a listing of the partner(s) or team’s top 10 clients, broken down by annual fee revenue. I would not advise for the partner/leading partner of the team to list his or her own remuneration level or expectation, as this should really be something which is negotiated in a meeting and I would not advise for a figure to be noted down in any business plan/paper;
  5. CLIENT FOLLOWING – After the financials, I would recommend to have a section that talks about the size/confidence of the client following. Some partners in the past have broken down their client lists in three sections – clients that will definitely move, clients that are likely to move and clients that are unlikely to move. By doing this, it allows the partner to calculate a more realistic client following figure;
  6. RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS – Any restrictive covenants? It is important for a firm to be aware of any restrictive covenants. This is not essential to cover in a business plan, but it needs to be factored in to any partner or team move discussion;
  7. REASON FOR TRANSFERRING THE PRACTICE – This point is not essential, but I have sometimes seen in a business plan a reason for transferring the practice/team (reason for the move). If there is a very clear reason for making the move on an individual basis or on a team basis, then this could be an interesting point for the acquiring firm to be aware of;
  8. WHAT WOULD THE NEW ROLE IN THE FIRM LOOK LIKE – Cover the role in the new firm (this is on the basis that the business plan is firm specific, rather than generic). If the partner has had successful meetings with a firm and has learned a lot about the business and its plans for growth etc., I would advise for the partner to try and include this, as it demonstrates an understanding of the firm/role from the earlier meetings that took place;
  9. CONCLUSION – a nice round off to the document, perhaps reconfirming interest in the firm and the opportunity.

A business plan has to be an interesting read; the figures have to be accurate and impressive; and I believe that one of the main objectives of a business plan is for it to be so strong, that it can win over partners of the acquiring firm who have not actually been involved in the meeting process. If a partner can write a business plan that is an interesting read to someone who has not been involved in the meeting process and not specialising in the same area of law as the partner – then I would say that they have written a successful document”.