SWOT Analysis for Law Firms

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A law firm is a business, and an essential ingredient for success in any business is proper planning and analysis. A key type of strategic planning and analysis tool is known as SWOT, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. SWOT will help the firm understand what its current position is and what its future might be.


This section of SWOT identifies and examines the firm's positive attributes and assets. These should be actual and usable items. These might include having a good record of winning cases and being recognized as a leader in a certain kind of practice. If the firm specializes in patent law, for example, having lawyers who are educated in engineering or the sciences would be a properly listed strength. Being an active member of the PTA would be suitable for a local real estate attorney, but probably not for a corporate contract firm.


This section of SWOT looks at what can be improved at a law firm. One way to identify weaknesses is by conducting the strengths analysis. If something should be there, but is not, that indicates a weakness. For example, if the firm is depends on doing a lot of business with real estate firms but no one on the staff has experience or training in the real estate industry, this is a weakness.


With this section, the SWOT switches its focus to the future. Opportunities are something that present a future strength. This is a more subjective and difficult task because it requires making projections. For example, a firm practicing residential real estate law can benefit from a proposed large housing development in its area, as long as it can develop a relationship with the developer and other key players. Likewise, a new corporate office park presents an opportunity for a firm practicing commercial law.


This section identifies what might turn out to be the firm's weaknesses in the future. A major threat for many law firms is competition, such as if another firm is better situated to take advantage of identified opportunities. For example, if a major real estate brokerage in the area plans to offer free legal services to its clients, that is a threat to a firm practicing real estate law.

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