Benefits of an Advisory Board

Advisory Boards are foreign to most legal services organizations but not to most entrepreneurs. There are great benefits to having an advisory board you can bounce ideas off and who will present you with alternative perspectives for looking at your situation. It is never too late to get stated and even a board of one is a good thing. Make it a person you can open up to and who has a well rounded skill set different from your own. I have enjoyed the experience on both sides of the table and found that a board of three is a good number. These individuals should not be chosen at random and may take time to find. Choose them because you know they have the insight and skills to make your business better, and thereby, your life better. Ultimately, when those two are in sync, the client’s experience will be a positive one.

Organizations and individuals can greatly benefit from taking regular pauses to review the past, present and future goals. It is not always productive to review your business strategies yourself. The exchange of thoughts and experiences with others help to clarify your vision. This is true for solo attorneys on up to large firms. I liken it to proofreading in many ways. A fresh eye will catch things we overlook in the heat of creation. When we are in the trenches, we don’t always catch possible pitfalls that a fresh eye will catch.

Of my recommended three individuals on your advisory board please make sure one is an experienced attorney comfortable with ethics questions and your practice area. For the other two, look to non-attorneys you respect. This is so very important. Attorneys tend to take advice from attorneys and hold back with non-attorneys. It is so critical to include non-attorneys in your strategy to get a well round perspective. So don't rule out the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker; they all have important skills and knowledge. Many professions encompass skills and insights in time management, work flow, patients, logistics, etc. Also seek out, in the non-attorneys, skills and experience in finance, technology and operation. Each advisor should be a “shadow” to a person in your organization. If you are a solo, yup that means you! Your advisory board members need to have unfiltered access to your business. The “shadow” idea does not literally mean they follow you around all day (although I have seen it done and it is very enlightening what insights are uncovered). The shadow process is meant to exchange micro-information and observations so when the Advisory Board and the Shadowed are all in one room to meet, they can develop strategies on a macro level in productive ways to solve the micro-issues. The conclusions and directions that the advisory board develops are ultimately yours to implement, but you can have the confidence that they were not created in a vacuum.