Starting a law firm is no small task, but standing out among all the other law firms in your area that practice the same type of law can be downright daunting. As anyone who has launched their own law firm knows, the legal industry is one of the most competitive industries out there. It’s filled with smart, determined, and often competitive individuals looking to dominate their field (or at least make enough money to pay off their hefty student loans and make a decent living).
One way that legal firms often choose to differentiate themselves is through their mission statements. On the websites of many law firms around the country, you’ll see their mission statements displayed prominently on the home page.
Your law firm’s mission statement isn’t just for your clients to read and decide whether or not they want to work with your firm, it’s also for you. A good mission statement will help you gain clarity on what your firm values and can guide you in decision making.
But first and foremost, it tells the world what kind of firm you are.
What Makes a Good Law Firm Mission Statement?
At the bare minimum, your mission statement should indicate what type of law you practice and why someone should hire your firm to represent them or their company.
Transitions Legal, a family law firm in Michigan, has this as their stated mission, “Transitions Legal is a full-service family law firm that embraces a mediative philosophy to guiding clients through a dignified divorce process. Led by Alisa Peskin-Shepherd, a divorce expert with more than 20 years of experience in practice, we approach every client case with integrity, understanding and razor-sharp perspective for optimal outcomes.”
This is a great example of a law firm mission statement for several reasons. First, it is a good, digestible length. A mission statement should be relatively brief and focused. If it’s more than a few sentences, it likely won’t get read—at least not in its entirety—by many potential clients.
Second, it is specific. It tells you the firm’s philosophy, experience, and approach—all of which are important to most clients. Too often, law firms opt for a very generic mission statement—something like “We work hard for every client to obtain the optimum outcome”. Mission statements like this don’t tell you anything about the firm. Readers will have no sense of whether or not the firm would be a good fit to represent them and probably won’t be inclined to hire that firm.
Finally, the Transitions Legal mission statement gives you a sense of the culture of the law firm. By using words like “dignified”, “integrity”, and “understanding”, potential clients can gain some insight into what their experience will be like if they hire Transitions Legal to represent them.
How to Write a Mission Statement for Your Law Firm
Mission statements should be written in the present tense (describing what you currently do), as opposed to vision statements, which are forward-looking (what you aim to do). As mentioned above, it should also be clear from your mission statement what types of cases you take on and the types of clients you serve.
A good mission statement will show some emotion. It should answer questions like: What is your firm passionate about? How do you help make people’s lives better? Why do you do what you do?
Scarlett Law Group, personal injury attorneys in San Francisco, have this as their mission statement: “At Scarlett Law Group, every task our San Francisco personal injury lawyers perform is intended to protect the rights, interests, and futures of our clients. Although we are a boutique law firm, we possess the tools, resources, and principles to achieve success for a wide range of victims and families who have been injured or wronged at the hands of others – no matter the size or strength of our legal opponents.”
In this mission statement example, you get the sense that the firm is willing to fight for the rights of victims. They are appealing to potential clients who want a small (“boutique”) firm, but one that will still get the job done against a more formidable opponent.
In the end, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to write a mission statement, but the guidelines listed above should get you started and hopefully lead you to one that will serve your firm well.