OKRs + SMART Goals for Law Firms

Goal setting for entrepreneurial law firms and attorneys

OKRs + SMART Goals for Law Firms

Whether you've recently hung up your shingle or your season's firm owner, setting goals is one of the best things you can do.

“An idiot with a plan can beat a genius without a plan.” - Warren Buffett

Having well-defined goals can:

  • Help your firm grow
  • Achieve objectives
  • Improve the operational efficiency of your team (read: everyone is paddling in the same direction)

In this article we’ll provide an overview of the two core methodologies for goal setting: SMART Goals and Objectives and Key Results.


SMART is a framework for creating goals. It stems from the work of Peter Drucker and has been used by thousands of organizations world-wide since it was first introduced in the 1980s.

Unlike other frameworks, SMART is a simple structure that outlines how to create, track, and measure progress.


Source: Fit Small Business

SMART details five things that a goal must fulfill:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Specific. A SMART goal should provide a clear description of what needs to be achieved. It should be clear in scope and define exactly what must be accomplished.

Measurable. To determine when a goal is achieved, it must be measurable. This is where metrics come in. Your goal should be something like “our firm will publish 10 new blog posts this month.”

Achievable. The SMART framework says that a goal must be within the realm of possibility to be actionable. It is important to note that this does NOT mean your goal should be easy. Many high performing teams routinely set moon-shoot goals, and end up getting about 75% - 85% of the way to their goal.

Relevant. The goal must be consistent with your overall organizational strategy.

Time-bound. A time-bound goal must have a start and end date. Otherwise there is no way to measure whether or not it is successful. Many companies set goals on a quarterly basis.

Objectives + Key Results (OKRs)

A great OKR consists for two things: an objective and one or more key results.

At Legal.io, we try to imagine that objectives are like a destination. They exist to align the team around where everyone is trying to get to - what the end state looks like.

Objectives should set a clear and inspiring goal, but should not contain data based targets.

Example: Grow our firm-to-firm referral network.

Key results should be measurable campaigns that benchmark progress towards an objective.

They exist to ensure the team is on track to achieve the objective.

Example: Attend 6 networking events this month.

Example: Add 4 new firms to our list of referral partners.

Differences between OKRs and SMART Goals

One of the biggest differences between OKRs and SMART Goals is the connection between OKRs and aspirational goal setting.

A major criticism of SMART Goals was that the “A” seemed to place too much emphasis on immediately attainable goals. Teams felt their creativity stifled and weren’t truly pushing the limits of what their teams could accomplish. They were asking “what is reasonable for our team to achieve” instead of “how far can we push our team to go?”

Most management consultants believe that a mix of the two frameworks leads to the highest return for firms and companies. SMART Goals help organizations set OKRs, and OKRs help the entire team set aspirational goals that propel the organization forward.

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