If you really want to make the right impression and be that stand-out candidate, you absolutely need to present a business case that is detailed, tailored, punchy and robust. In my opinion, candidates all too often rely on interviews as a means to landing the position. This is simply not the case. Sure, all parties need to get on personally and there has to be a ‘firm fit’ but it’s your business plan that will ultimately clinch the deal. The document is your best opportunity to put in black and white the reasons why you should be hired.
Do not undersell, but present your story in a confident way that leaves the reader wholly persuaded by your proposal and committed to the plan that you intend to execute. The business plan in simple terms should provide a clear overview of who you are, what you do and what you are going to do for the firm you intend on joining. It is a sales document that advertises and justifies your rationale for being hired. From a law firm’s point of view, the detail has to demonstrate a positive cost analysis on why the investment is going to work for all parties concerned. Essentially, does your practice align with the business and will it make money?
Below I’ve laid out the format and content that I find work well.
1.Executive Summary / Introduction
This section should provide a short summary of who you are, what you do, where you want to go and how you are going to get there. Detail your current position/role within the firm and your skill set, and provide an overview of your practice area and sector focus.
2.The Business Case / Market Strategy
This section should briefly outline your actual proposal and case for what it is that you would look to bring to the firm. What is the value add and why? What are your objectives and how does your strategy align with the business? You could also include some detail around short and longer term goals.
This section is crucial to your sell and forms the real hub of your proposal. It will be closely examined so don’t hold back on selling yourself and the strength of your relationships. Your aim is to simply provide a detailed explanation of those key clients that are likely to follow you and fundamentally how much revenue they will generate. When it comes to explaining the financials, I would recommend that you possibly consider forecasting a best and worst case deliverable for each client and present this information over a 1, 2 and 3 year period.
For each client you should include:
Who they are and what they do.
What the nature of your relationship is with the business and how close you are to the decision makers.
How active the client is and what their typical annual legal spend is. Also whether you are getting the lion’s share of work or whether there is more to be had.
How long you have worked with the client.
What you can expect to typically generate from the client year in, year out. Here you should look to provide an overview of historical billings and also projections going forward.
What your potential pipeline of work looks like and whether it is immediately portable, or if not, whether you have a good understanding of what the future might bring.
Whether you provide this detail in a table format is up to you. The important thing is that you identify and clarify clearly the revenue streams generated from each client that is attributable to your practice area. Also ideally, if you can, other practice areas that would benefit from your clients too.
If possible, you should look to identify and expand on areas in common and also highlight particular client synergies.
It can quite often present well if clients are broken down into categories in terms of how likely they are to actually follow you and generate revenue. For instance, Category A might define those that are extremely likely to follow (all but in the bag) and Category B are those that are likely to produce work but are possibly more lukewarm and speculative. Lastly, Category C are those less probable clients but where there might be a good chance of winning business down the line – particularly if given the right opportunity and platform to do so.
The phrasing used to describe your relationships and fee-generating potential should be assertive and optimistic in the assumptions made. While not overselling, there is absolutely no point in playing down your practice and opportunities to be had.
It can be worth providing some detail around market trends, additional areas for growth and perhaps other opportunities or ideas you might have around making the most of your contacts and experience. Some information on potential competitors could be useful, as well as some detail around restrictive covenants. Further information about the support and financial resource you may require can also be helpful.
This is essentially your closing statement. It should summarise all of the above and look to hammer home your case for approval!
Your business plan is, of course, just part of your preparation for presenting yourself in the best possible light. Please also see our earlier blog posts on The perfect legal CV and Interview tips and questions. If you have any questions, please contact us.