On Tuesday I started to tell you about my work as a faculty member at the Managing Partner Forum in St Louis. The data gathered in the instant audience poll is eye-opening.

Today I would like to share the results from three of the questions.

1. How did your firm perform financially in 2010?

  • Much better than expected… We had a very good year – 53%
  • About what we expected… A relatively good year – 32%
  • OK, but not where we wanted to be – 9%
  • Not good… It was a tough year – 6%

2. Looking ahead, how would you describe your expectations for 2011?

  • 2011 will be a very good year… A solid improvement from 2010 – 34%
  • Cautiously optimistic… We expect a slight improvement, but still nervous about the economy – 34%
  • Hard to say… Fairly flat – 23%
  • We see another difficult year in 2011… Profits will remain disappointing – 9%

3. What have been your firm’s top 3 most effective strategies to improve financial performance over the past two to three years?

#1 – Improving billing and collections practices

#2 – Marketing and business development

#3 – Improved operating efficiencies

83% had a good to very good 2010… and 68% expect improvement in 2011. No surprise to me… marketing and business development is the #2 most effective strategy to improve your financial performance. There is only so much one can do in operations to improve your performance… but with marketing and business development you are limited only by your attorney’s proficiency to do it, their focus to get it done and your follow-up to hold them accountable… remember people do what you inspect not what you expect.