August 3, 2010

We've all heard the saying, in one of its many forms: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

I would suggest that learning the lessons of history is just the first step in our business journey. The second, more active step, is to apply those lessons. Knowledge is most powerful when it is translated into constructive solutions.

Over the past 40 years, one of the greatest lessons we have learned at Much Shelist is that we are strongest and serve our clients best when we remain true to our core mission and values. Our primary goal is to be the preeminent law firm serving middle-market businesses throughout Chicago, by providing insightful legal counsel and extraordinary service. We accomplish this client-focused objective by investing in and enthusiastically supporting our attorneys and staff.

Like all businesses, we have occasionally strayed from this core mission—but this rarely occurs by design. More often, it happens because we become focused on day-to-day activities, short-term challenges and immediate opportunities. Taken individually, none of these distractions is likely to divert us off course. When you put them together (especially when we don't notice for some time), the course is changed and recalibration is needed.

One reward of our investment in human and intellectual capital over the years is that our leaders have always been insightful enough to recognize when we have strayed from our core principles. We have also been strong enough to take corrective action, whether that means refining our attorney recruiting strategy, strengthening our commitment to social responsibility initiatives or refocusing our client-service efforts. By actively applying—and not simply acknowledging—the lessons of history, we have invariably come to a position of even greater strength.

What lessons have you learned from your own history? How have you applied the things you've learned to make your business better? Ask yourself these questions, and with your answers in hand, you will be on your way to building a better future.

This article contains material of general interest and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. Under applicable rules of professional conduct, this content may be regarded as attorney advertising.