You have probably heard this before: The legal sector is going to experiment huge transformation in the upcoming years. The law firms that are going to survive are the ones who manage to put in place a collaboration strategy.
One of the key enablers of transformation is “collaboration”. In this post, I understand this term broadly: people, data and technology.
Collaboration is widely considered as one of the top XXI century skills and is often defined as your ability to work with others to achieve common goals.
This post aims to give law firms a few “things” they can start doing today to start moving towards enhanced collaboration capabilities.
Share a vision and purpose with the people you choose to collaborate with
A compelling vision inspires motivation and ensures everyone with whom you collaborate stays on the same page. You could, for example, use SALT methodology to help you get there.
Once you have this vision agreed. It is also important to visualize it! We tend to forget this in the rush of everyday tasks. The vision needs to be revisited time and time again. We need to be speaking often about it. How does it sound? What is the smell of collaboration? See it and feel it in your office. Place it shortly (but regularly) on the agendas of your meetings.
Alessandra Satta is an expert in Generative Collaboration and she likes to ask the groups she coaches to imagine if they could fast forward to 10 or maybe 20 years from now. What do they see? How does this vision that they want to create look like? What footprint do they want to leave behind?
Diversify your partners
Law firms are going to have to recruit new profiles, more familiar and open to work on collaborative modes. In fact training of law professionals must evolve. *
Lawyers tend to like to work with people that speak the same language. This often translate with lawyers only working or hiring other lawyers. This must change!
Think about ways to bring diversity to your workplace,
- start hiring people from other disciplines (not only legal experts): web developers, service designers, facilitators, academia, visual graphic designers, historians, philosophers, startups etc
- also think about this… if you always choose the people with whom you collaborate, is this really collaboration? Start collaborating with your competitors. But who among your competitors? This is where the vision and purpose comes in handy…I personally collaborate only with the people that share same values and vision as me. They are the ones provide the good energy I need to continue my work.
Nurture your community with multi-format events and connection opportunities
There are many ways to nurture. But think about connection as the thing that will bring most added value to your network: Create spaces for connection.
Your community has people that are doing individual actions ignoring that somewhere out there there is someone doing the same. Local actions spring up simultaneously in many different areas. If these actions remain disconnected, nothing happens beyond each locale. However, when they become connected, local actions can emerge as a powerful system with influence at higher level.
An easy way to start nurturing is to organise regular events at your offices in which you “pay the drinks” and bring an inspiring speaker with whom your “community” can have a chat.
Other possible ideas:
Open a lab, an incubator or innovation space. Example: Barclays Eagle Labs
A weekend retreat
An AMA session on Twitter (Ask me anything)
A slack channel
A newsletter with good info to nurture your tribe and keep them connected to you
APIS* are everywhere. But sharing is not always caring
Think about your knowledge as data that will, sooner or later be placed in a web format. You can start thinking now, what is your strategic knowledge that makes your own competitive advantage.
Should I share this? Here there are different opinions. Some people believe that knowledge is abundant and so it should be open. Some people believe in scarcity and they will tell you… Don’t share this or that!. It is up to you to make your own opinion and choose what you decide to open and share.
*An API is a set of code that has been written to ensure interchangeability between your system and other systems. In terms of IT if you want to stay on top you need to be constantly innovating adapting the system. Sometimes this innovation does not need to come from your own team. But you can look for resources outside: you put your data , applications or devices outside and open it up to teams outside to improve it.
Updating your skills
Legal market is changing but legal education has not kept pace with the times. As futurist Richard Susskind warns, “we are training young lawyers to become 20th-century lawyers and not 21st-century lawyers.”
One of the biggest obstacles to legal innovation in France, Belgium and Spain is a lack of qualified professionals.*
Investing in learning agility and core capabilities is as important for the individual worker as it is for the decision-making executive. Thinking openly can get us there.
At Places of Learning have a very simple and clear mission, to prepare lawyers for an ever-changing world.
In order to do that we launch a community of practice, (based in Brussels) in the field of legal design and communications. We want to encourage a culture of collaboration across professionals working inside legal firms that could benefit from sharing best practices and peer learning (horizontal / among equals).
Joining this community is very simple:
- Just subscribe to our newsletter if you want to join and stay up to date of our events.
- Contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or linkedin
- Join our meetup group.