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What is the Difference Between a Law Firm’s Vision and Mission?

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What is the Difference Between a Law Firm’s Vision and Mission?

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Vision statements and mission statements are often discussed interchangeably, and while they are certainly closely related, the ideas they present are very different. It is particularly important for a law firm to have both a vision and a mission statement, as one cannot exist without the other. Despite the many differences between the legal industry and others, any type of business needs a strong foundation to be successful; thoughtfully developed vision and mission statements are a great foundation and can bleed into many other aspects of a law firm, including brand and marketing strategy.

A vision statement is future-based.

The key difference between a vision and mission statement is what the statement focuses on. Vision statements are future-focused and deal with the goals a law firm hopes to achieve in the future. A vision statement should clearly present the primary goals for the future of a firm, but not need to discuss the methods by which those goals will be achieved.

Here are a few questions to help develop a comprehensive vision statement:

  • What do you want your law firm to be known for?
  • What do you want individual attorneys to accomplish each day and in the long run?
  • What do you want the law firm as a whole to accomplish each day and in the long run?
  • What percentage of success do you want to achieve in your cases? The answer to this might be obvious—100%, of course—but it bears repeating in your mission statement.
  • Aside from winning cases, what do you want clients to consistently experience when working with you?
  • What kind of clients do you want to serve?

A mission statement is present-based.

A mission statement deals with the how, rather than the what of the matter. A mission statement spends a good deal less time talking about what a law firm hopes to achieve and instead discusses the methods by which they plan to achieve those goals. A mission statement lays out a sort of game plan, detailing the specific measures a law firm is taking in the present tense to ensure they reach the goals discussed in the vision statement.

Here are a few questions to help develop a meaningful mission statement:

  • Why do you practice law?
  • How does your practice stand out from others in the field?
  • How does the way you practice law ensure a better chance at success for your attorneys and clients?
  • How does the way you conduct business work to make clients feel safe, secure, and cared for?

The questions you ask to develop your mission statement can vary widely, depending on the goals you set in your vision statement. While the questions above are a great starting point for any law firm’s mission statement, it’s also important to make sure you address every goal included in the vision statement with this question: “How will we make this happen?” This will ensure that your mission statement differs significantly from the vision statement and contains a meaningful roadmap to assure your clients you know what you want, and you know how to get there.

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