The Law Office Backyard Retreat’re going to try something different next month – the First Annual Wise Law Office Backyard  Retreat.

It will be a day-long, out-of-office session to explore planning and teamwork and to ask to ourselves some fundamental questions about what it is that we do as a law office.

There will, of course be food and festivity too, but ultimately, it will be an opportunity for our lawyers and staff to put our collective heads together to do some creative, directed brainstorming.

In the planning stages for this event, I’m having lots of thoughts as to the issues we should be addressing. But the one topic for discussion that keeps coming to my mind is this:

What are our firm’s “service promises” to our clients – and what can we do – collectively and individually – to ensure that we always keep those promises?

A corollary question also comes to mind:

What are our own professional promises to ourselves, and how do we as a firm support and enable our people to actualize those career goals and aspirations?

We are a small firm, and it might seem a bit high-fallutin’ (to some) that we would attempt to address such lofty topics. In an era of change and rapid evolution in our legal marketplace, however, my conclusion is that those who fail to take a hard look at the big questions and the big picture are probably missing out on major opportunities.

There are many excellent resources and consultants on law practice management, strategic planning for lawyers and law firm branding.  I very much endorse the involvement of those resources and professionals, and I’ve invited Sandra Bekhor of Bekhor Management (full disclosure – my significant other) to participate and facilitate the opening session of our day.  I expect that her added insight and expertise will be helpful in guiding us.

It will be very interesting to see the ideas that emerge from within our group.

Will we conceive of new systems for doing what we do better? Or develop ideas for better implementing technologies into our day-to-day work? Is it time for a new blogging strategy? Will a mission statement be articulated that we can all buy into? Maybe we will figure out how to get better at saving trees and being paperless. Or perhaps we will establish a more rapid method of responding to new client enquiries. Perhaps we can look at the nuts and bolts of the business of law, while also focusing on the quality of our professional lives.

Or perhaps we will just enjoy a (hopefully) sunny day together, sample exotic delicacies, vegetarian and otherwise, and walk away with a better sense of who we are as a firm and who we aspire to be as professionals.

If so, I expect it will be a very good day.

 – Garry J. Wise, Toronto (@wiselaw on Twitter)

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