OSB Professional Liability Fund

Vision and Mission Statements for Your Law Practice

Picture of telescope
October 19, 2018
by Hong Dao

One thing that some lawyers don’t typically do when opening their law practice is creating a vision and mission for their firm. They may have a website that includes an “About me” or “About us” page that consists of a biography of the lawyers. But biographies do not capture the firm’s identity: what it does, what it wants to be, and what it believes in. That is where the vision and mission statements come in. They articulate the firm’s ultimate goals and objectives in a way that inspires and moves the firm in a specific direction.  
 
The vision and mission statements serve as a foundation for setting goals and planning. They are the basis for everything a firm does, from strategic planning to making business decisions, marketing, and practice management. The vision and mission statements will guide the firm’s actions in a direction that aligns with what the lawyers believe is right for the firm. 
 
If your firm doesn’t have vision and mission statements, consider creating them to help you purposefully and strategically run your law practice.

Creating a vision statement 

A vision statement is a picture of what your firm wants to be three to five or 10 years down the road. It describe the future you want to create for your firm. The vision helps you think beyond the day-to-day activity. It lets you see the big picture so you don’t get caught up the mundane and lose perspective.
 
Below are some questions you can ask yourself to come up with a vision statement:
  • What do you ultimately want to achieve in your practice?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What kind of reputation do you wish to have?
  • What kind of clients do you want to serve? Who are your ideal clients?
Combine your answers in one or two sentences that spell out an aspiring vision for your business. Here are some examples of simple vision statements:
  • To be the premier personal injury firm in the Pacific Northwest.
  • To serve as the state’s leader in the field of employment and labor law.
  • We strive to be the standard for excellence in the field of marital and family law.
  • Be the “go-to” counsel for all your business’s legal needs.
Your vision for the firm gives you a point of focus – something you and your staff will work toward accomplishing.

Creating a mission statement

A mission statement helps determine your firm’s direction in relation to its vision. The firm’s mission has three components: purpose, business, and value.
 
The first component is the firm’s core purpose. It answers the question, “Why you are practicing law?” Reflect on the reasons you wanted to be a lawyer and created your firm. What motivates you? What are you hoping to accomplish for your clients? The purpose should be broad, inspirational, and motivational. Here are a few sample purpose statements:
  • Help families overcome their differences and put their lives back on track (domestic relations).
  • Empower our clients and help them rebuild their lives (personal injury).
  • Help our clients’ dream of coming to the U.S. become a reality (immigration).
  • Help clients achieve peace of mind in trying times (general).
The firm’s purpose captures your passions for the practice of law and remind you of why you’re doing it.  
 
The second component is the firm’s business.  It answers the question, “What does your firm do that is different or better?” It’s a description of the kind of legal services you want to provide and the clients you want to serve. It conveys what makes your service different from others by describing the quality and unique features of your business. Below are some examples:
  • We deliver highly skilled, effective, and innovative legal representation to our clients in a timely manner and at a reasonable cost.
  • We deliver customized, creative, and effective solutions to businesses of all sizes.
  • Our firm is committed to delivering top-notch traditional and non-traditional legal services tailored to clients of all financial abilities.  
The third component is the firm’s values. It answers the question, “How does your firm do business?” It is about the beliefs and principles that will guide your firm. What values do you want to define your firm’s reputation, culture, and work ethic? Here are some values found on many firms’ websites: integrity, service, excellence, teamwork, innovation, respect, communication, diversity, preparation, empathy, persistence. Once you come up with the values you believe in, you should derive guiding principles from them. Think of principles as a set of instructions to help you and your staff live out your values. They guide your day-to-day operation and management of the firm. Sample values statements include:
  • We use technological innovation to improve the quality of our client services and reduce our legal costs.
  • We take our time to listen to and understand our clients’ issues and customize a solution that directly responds to their individual needs. 
  • We believe in creating and maintaining a positive, healthy, and safe environment for our clients and employees.
The mission statement combines all three components to express your firm’s purpose, business, and values. Here is an example of a mission statement taken from the samples above:
 
At ABC Law Firm, we help families overcome their differences and put their lives back on track. Our firm is committed to delivering top-notch traditional and non-traditional legal services tailored to clients of all financial abilities. We take our time to listen to and understand our clients’ issues and customize a solution that directly responds to their individual needs.
 
Your mission statement is not a marketing statement. It’s not about your qualifications and credentials as a lawyer. It should focus on your clients, not you. It’s about understanding your clients’ needs and how your firm will serve their needs in a way that is different or better than your competitors. So make sure your mission statement is inspiring to both you and your clients. They should see themselves in the mission statement and think, “This is why we want you to represent us.”  

Tips

  • Make it personal. You can read some law firms’ or other businesses’ vision and mission statements to get inspiration, but your own statements should be unique and personal to you.
  • Keep it simple. It’s not a history of your firm.
  • Don’t focus on perfection. You don’t have to get everything right the first time. It’s a work-in-progress, so be open to changing your statements later on.
  • Remember, the vision statement focuses on your firm, but the mission statement focuses on your clients.
  • Once your statements are finalized, put them on your website and consider placing a framed printout of the statements in your office. 
Make sure you put your vision and mission statements into action. Live them.
 
If you’re interested in creating vision and mission statements as part of a business plan, The PLF has a Law Office Business Plan Worksheet available at here.