Yearly Planning in an Abnormal Year

Legal departments that proactively plan for the “new normal” will be better equipped to weather what promises to be another strange year with less stress.

The world waits for a COVID-19 vaccine – and with it, a return to some semblance of normalcy. For some, it feels a bit like purgatory. In the midst of the unknown, it’s tempting to postpone any kind of big-picture planning until we’re back on terra firma.

But this is not the time to skip out on a legal strategic plan for your Legal Department.

From all accounts, we will return to something like business as usual in 2021. Offices will reopen. The rhythms of our daily lives will be restored. The headlines will not be dominated by COVID-19.

And….all of the problems we’ve been ignoring will still be there. (During our distraction, some possibly have grown worse.)

Legal Departments that proactively pause to plan for the “new normal” will be better prepared for the transition, be better equipped to handle non-COVID work, and will weather what promises to be another strange year with less stress.

We know that strategic legal planning is not a traditional forte of in-house counsel. According to data from Xakia’s Legal Operations Health Check:

  • Less than one-third (29.9%) of Legal Departments conduct annual planning at least “moderately well”
  • Only one-third (32.5%) have short- and long-term objectives
  • Less than one-quarter (24.6%) have well-defined and measurable strategic metrics.

That's why we've made it easy.

A legal department strategic plan on a page

You don’t need a week-long retreat or a three-inch binder to create a Legal Department strategic plan. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. We believe simple plans are far more likely to actually get done.

We have revamped the strategic planning process for the special circumstances – and special brand of stress – of 2020:

  • Eight straightforward steps. We know how intimidating it can feel to stare at a blank page. Our model will guide you through the construction of a strategic plan, point by point, helping you incorporate not only your Legal Department’s wants and needs, but also those of your business clients and C-suite.
  • No navel-gazing. We also know lawyers don’t enjoy the more philosophical aspects of strategic planning, like visions and missions and statements of purpose. A secret: those things can be useful, but they’re certainly not essential. Our model focuses on action.
  • Acknowledge the abnormal. While we believe 2021 will bring an end to the coronavirus crisis, it’s still very much with us – and will be for at least the first two quarters of the year. We will help you think short-term and long-term so your Legal Department is positioned for the continued effects of COVID-19, the transition and what comes next.

We also provide a template for your plan that will fit on one page, so you can easily reference and execute it – then measure and report on your success.

Getting started

This long-term planning requires thinking beyond COVID-19 – a challenge when the past year has been dominated by crisis response.

We appreciated this direction from McKinsey & Company:

  • Add a positive outlook to the range of scenarios in your 2021 plans.
  • Anchor your 2022-23 plans on your 2019 trajectory, rather than anything related to 2020-21.
  • Launch all initiatives required to put your business on track for a full COVID edit in 2022.

2020 will not last forever; it only feels that way. It’s time to plan for the future you want – and to chart the steps to make it happen.

Ready for a better 2021? Download our white paper and template, “Eight Steps to Your 2021 Legal Department Strategic Plan” and get started today.

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