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Creativity, communication, creativity, critiquing - The building blocks for a successful collaborative culture.

by Chris Marston | June 25, 2024

As we face up to continuing global turmoil and change, all of which is likely to impact our businesses directly in the months ahead, what can we do to improve leadership in this complex world?  

Collaborations in the business world can bring new knowledge and audiences, push industry boundaries, as well as solve tough challenges.  Simply put, it’s a way of expanding and diversifying the talent on your team without the on-cost.

And while there may be some resistance among law firms in getting too close to their competitors, being open to finding routes to engage with sector peers and cross-sector connections can have a significant and positive impact on business strength.

This is uppermost in my mind as we review the feedback from the annual satisfaction survey that we ask our SME law firm members to complete.  And their responses  consistently illustrate the impact of collaboration on organisational strength, with our members valuing connection, interaction and knowledge sharing with other firms as a crucial differentiator for them and their businesses.   

Typically in the £2m-£25m turnover range, LawNet members use their network to share solutions, best practice and knowledge, peer-to-peer, whether in person at our learning events, or through online discussion sessions and community forums. 

We see some exciting examples of collaboration across our network, with firms working together on issues ranging from AI to HR, with clear evidence that openness encourages reciprocity. 

And while big ideas and overall business development may seem like the main reason for sharing with others, this collaborative connection-building can also pay dividends when it supports the more solitary roles in law firms.  A managing partner looking to develop their leadership skills, or specialists in areas like compliance, IT or marketing who may be working alone or without a mentor or sounding board in their specialist sphere, can all benefit enormously. 

A specialist group can drill down into an agenda that would not be feasible in a more generic legal grouping.  The topics covered by our risk and compliance forum can range from residual client balances or work experience confidentiality to sanctions and complaints. 

Another group that may benefit significantly, in both personal development and in what they bring back to the firm, are junior lawyers.  We regularly host sessions to enable practical sharing and development experience among this peer group, and after taking part Seema Gill of howell jones solicitors commented:

“It was great to work together on tasks with other junior lawyers. It helped hone the skills of working collaboratively as it’s easy to become complacent and believe you work well in a team when you work with the same people.”  Sharing can also stimulate aspiration, as she adds: “There are so many incredible junior lawyers within the network and I enjoy seeing their journeys and am often inspired by their achievements.”

So how can law firms create and lock-in a culture of collaboration with others, whether at the practical, granular level or when considering a strategic leap?  Let’s look at four core components: confidence, communication, creativity and critiquing.  

The next two articles in this series will be published over the coming weeks, when we will look at these four key aspects and how the power of collaboration may help firms to break through to better business performance.  

A longer version of this article was previously published in Solicitors Journal 


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