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Five ideas for a successful partner retreat

A good partner retreat needs careful planing and preparation.  This short note sets out five ideas for a successful partner retreat:

1     Get the date in everyone’s diary well in advance.

I find the best retreats are those where a client gives me several months notice – ideally three or four months. This means it can be put in everyone’s diaries at an early stage (especially important if it is to include a Saturday) and also gives me plenty of time to prepare.

Sometimes firms approach me about a retreat in say four or five weeks time – sometimes they work, but invariably the whole process becomes rushed. It is much better to plan ahead.

2     Use an external facilitator

There can be a temptation to keep the cost down and let the managing partner or chairman facilitate the retreat. This can work well and I have attended partner conferences as a guest speaker where the managing partner did a great job running the meeting, however using an external facilitator means:

  • You get an external perspective
  • That everyone, including the managing partner, is able to contribute – it is actually quite difficult to both chair and contribute to a meeting
  • That the meeting is likely to be more successful, because the facilitator will be able to draw on his or her experience of other firms and will know what has/has not worked in the past.

3     Invest time in planning and preparing for the retreat.

This needs to be done internally by the partners involved organising it, but also by anyone external facilitating it. They need time to meet people, understand the issues and get to know the personalities.

4     Go off site

A partner retreat can be run in house in one of the boardrooms, and this keeps the cost down, but in my experience it is better to get everyone off site – a country hotel is ideal.

5     Make it residential

Once again there can be a temptation just to make it a day meeting, in part so as to keep the cost down, but it does make a difference staying away. It is a great way to strengthen the bond between partners and boost morale.

“Andrew has a depth of knowledge about the pressures facing the owners of solicitors practices today and a wide experience of how different firms are tackling these issues. However his real strength is the clarity he brings to the planning and decision making process which allied with his energy and enthusiasm helped generate a real sense of purpose and unity amongst our partners.”