Recently I participated in a webinar panel with the Managing Partner Forum entitled Winning the Law Firm Acquisition Game. It got me thinking about what law firm partners should consider before making the decision to merge or acquire another firm.
For sure you have heard Simon Sinek’s “Why” talk a million times.
It’s still good and it’s still worthwhile – you can find an abbreviated version here.
I can’t emphasize strongly enough how important it is to have this in place before any important decision you take – certainly before considering a purchase or combination with another entity.
I’m a big believer in the ‘why’ behind anything – it really drives outcomes and should be taken into account before ANY of these very expensive exercises (i.e., M&A work) occur. When we have worked with thoughtful (as in “full of thought”) firms that have a strategic plan, have a well-articulated statement of strategic purpose (or Mission/Vision/values or organizational DNA – has a million names), and have unity of intention it is a very different outcome from when a firm makes these types of calls based on ego, fear, or any other dysfunctional motivation.
Most firms don’t want to go through the “headache” or “hassle” of doing a strategic plan before they do an acquisition. Here are the top two reasons they cite:
“We’re going to be opportunistic; if the right one comes along, we’ll grab it/if we get approached by the right suitor, we’ll sell.”
“Yes, we want to do a strategic plan but first, we need to make this acquisition, hire a COO, and add a couple of practice areas.”
Oh here, let me add some more examples:
“I’m not going to crack the eggs before I use them in the recipe – that’s way too much planning.”
“Planning before programming? Nah, I’m just gonna grab a keyboard and start keying!”
“Designated driver? My reflexes are at their MAX when I have had a couple of drinks to get me going!”
Do the right thing.
Get a plan in place.
Figure out your why.
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