Looking at the bigger picture

Clifford Chance's mission statement for the next 10 years takes the form of a simple yet determined document.

In it, the firm's strategy is clearly laid out as a series of ambitions. It lays down the gauntlet as far as its US aims are concerned. The firm wants to take on and beat these firms on their own territory – the only UK practice to have made this a central tenet of its strategy.

Its ambition to become the world's premier law firm is one move on from its aim 10 years ago to become the leading law firm in Europe. This it achieved having worked steadily to build up its Continental network of offices.

The document homes in on specific areas, with multinationals and governments regarded as premier clients while smaller corporates will be given the lowest priority. The "vision" is bold, showing a firm which has clearly worked out its direction and its determination to go forward.

While it would be easy to say that its size means that Clifford Chance can do this more successfully than others, and hence starts out with a natural advantage, it should be remembered that the practice set out on its original vision with no more advantages than any other City firms.

It has steadfastly built up a clear strategy over the years and worked on its strengths despite, like most other firms, experiencing its fair share of hiccups along the way.

What the mission statement shows is a practice which has always looked to the greater picture. It is a firm which has set out workable objectives, made them clear to all in the practice, and then worked towards them.

There is a message for all in this – firms must work out what their goal is before they can move forward and achieve it. They have ultimate control over their own destiny. But they must first work out what that destiny is.