Running or starting a law practice is a complex task. But having a well-crafted law firm mission statement is essential—it’s a handy way to remind you of your ultimate vision. A mission statement also keeps you on track when you get lost and helps you decide which turn to take next.
How can a simple statement be so powerful?
When you can clearly articulate your firm’s core mission, you establish a strong foundation and point of reference. And your law firm’s core mission boils down to being able to state your firm’s purpose, what sets it apart, and how it strives to operate. Your mission statement serves as a foundation that guides your firm’s decision-making and strategy—so that you can better serve your clients.
In the following guide, we’ll cover what you need to know to create an effective law firm mission statement for your practice. We’ll start by exploring the difference between your law firm’s mission statement and vision, and why you need both. We’ll also outline the different components of a great law firm mission statement, offer best practices to follow, and provide some law firm mission statement examples for inspiration. Read on to get started.
What are law firm mission statements?
The statement articulates your firm’s purpose, what you strive to do for clients, and how you will achieve those outcomes in just a few sentences.
While you can certainly practice law without a mission statement, having a law firm mission statement is a small but valuable exercise for firms. A mission statement can help guide your business strategies, govern how you do business, and connect you with the right clients.
Law firm mission statement vs. vision
Defining your law firm’s vision is important to your law firm’s success, but it’s not quite the same as creating a law firm mission statement. Here is the basic difference between the two types of statements:
- Law firm vision: As the name suggests, your law firm’s vision focuses on your big-picture “vision” for your law firm. This vision describes how you see your firm in the future—in its best form.
- Law firm mission: If a law firm’s vision focuses more on the firm’s future, your mission statement focuses more on your clients. Specifically, your mission should indicate what you set out to do for clients today, and how you will go about doing it.
It’s essential to consider your law firm’s vision when creating your law firm mission statement. The vision’s long-term goals will impact what you strive to do in your mission.
What are the different parts of a law firm mission statement?
The recipe for an effective law firm mission statement includes three key ingredients: your law firm’s core purpose, business, and values.
Your firm’s core purpose
This is your firm’s “why.” Your “why” may seem obvious at a surface level—your firm exists so that you can practice law. But your firm’s core purpose requires deeper reflection to pinpoint your firm’s “why.”
To identify your firm’s purpose, consider how you would answer questions such as:
- Why do you practice law?
- What do you want to help your clients achieve?
- Why should clients come to your firm?
With these answers in hand, you can then focus on a purpose for your firm. For example, if you practice immigration law, your broad core purpose could be to help clients in your community navigate the immigration process and become citizens.
Your firm’s business
This is your firm’s “what.” What sets your firm apart from the competition? Is your firm client-centered? Do you use technology to drive innovation with your legal services? The answer to these questions can help you describe your firm’s business—your answer should be a description of what kind of legal services you strive to provide clients.
Building on our previous example, an immigration law firm could be set apart from competitors by offering alternative fee arrangements like sliding scale fees to accommodate a range of client financial situations.
Your firm’s values
This is your firm’s “how.” What values does your firm stand for? Your firm’s values should reflect how your firm operates—such as the beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes that you want to define your firm.
To help uncover the key values at your firm, consider questions like:
- How would our peers describe our firm’s reputation?
- If you could describe the work culture at the firm in three words, what would they be?
- What makes you most proud when it comes to work?
- Why do clients come to the firm? What are the common reasons why people refer cases to you?
- Which behaviors are rewarded or celebrated at the firm?
- What behaviors are discouraged at the firm?
Using these questions, you can look for patterns to reveal the values that you want to prioritize and promote at your firm. For example, you may identify values like respect, teamwork, and persistence.
For our immigration firm example, the firm may identify its top values as communication and empathy. With these values as guiding principles, they may then strive to actively listen to client concerns to create an affordable, custom legal plan in every case.
Law firm mission statement examples
Using a firm’s purpose, business, and values, we can then create a law firm mission statement. You can look at other law firm’s mission statements for examples. We’ve also created two law firm mission statement examples below for you to reference. Note that you should create an original mission statement for your firm.
Mission statement example 1
First, let’s look at the example of an immigration law firm that we walked through earlier:
The mission of XYZ Law is to help clients navigate the immigration process and become citizens [purpose]. We are committed to listening to each unique client situation [values] and providing customized, affordable legal services [business].
Mission statement example 2
Next, let’s consider a family law firm that strives to help divorce clients conclude their marriages without unnecessary delays or antagonism.
Example Law Firm LLP strives to guide separated couples through the processes of ending their marriages [purpose]. By offering experienced legal services in a timely manner [business], we help clients move forward with their lives with a fair resolution for all parties [values].
Best practices for effective law firm mission statements
Make it short but personal
While your brainstorming session might come up with a lot of ideas, it’s important to whittle your ideas down into a concise and clear mission statement. Aim to capture your mission in one or three sentences.
Since your law firm mission statement should be brief, don’t waste your words on any vague or general language. Customize your mission statement to include specific, personalized language that conveys your firm’s unique purpose, business, and values.
You can update your law firm mission statement
Your law firm mission statement isn’t set in stone, so don’t be afraid to revisit and revise it as your firm evolves. Reviewing your mission statement periodically—or whenever your firm experiences a major change or growth—is an excellent way to ensure it stays relevant and up-to-date.
Consider brainstorming with team members
If you’re a solo practitioner, crafting your lawyer mission statement is a personal exercise you can work on by yourself. However, if your firm has more than one staff member, it’s a good idea to get input from the team. While one person can ultimately write the actual statement, discussing things like your firm’s values with team members can help you create a mission statement that everyone can stand behind.
Communicate with your team
Similarly, once you’ve created an effective law firm mission statement, be sure to share it with your team. It’s crucial to ensure everyone at your firm is on the same page when it comes to your mission—after all, this is part of why creating a law firm mission statement is so important. Team members may also have useful feedback.
Don’t just send one memo about the firm’s mission statement and forget about it, either. If your firm has more than one employee, you can refer back to the mission statement regularly. One way to do this would be in law firm strategy meetings. This repetition will help ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Publish and share it online
Once you’ve written your mission statement, make it available for the world (and your clients) to see. Publishing your mission statement—one’s law firm’s website is a great place for this—allows potential clients to see how your firm operates. Also, publishing your mission statement helps to hold you and your team accountable to the mission you’ve defined.
You’re ready to create a great law firm mission statement
More than just a bio section on your law firm’s website, a law firm mission statement is an opportunity to capture and define your firm’s identity. The ability to articulate your firm’s mission—from the practice’s purpose to what it does to how it strives to operate—is a powerful way to guide your business strategy and attract best-fit clients.
You should personalize your law firm mission statement to your practice, vision, and values. But if you need inspiration, you could read the mission statements of other law firms that you respect. Many law firms post their mission statements on their websites.
The process of drafting a mission statement takes some introspection and brainstorming. But the exercise can be enlightening, rewarding, and effective for helping your firm focus on its goals, values, and clients.