Law firms can only thrive when all their departments work seamlessly together towards a common goal. However, at some firms, where the focus is on the lawyers, there can be a disconnect or even resentment amongst fee-earners and legal support staff. This can lead to reduced productivity, poor culture and potentially even employee attrition.
In this blog post, we’ll explain ways in which you can enhance collaboration between your law firm’s legal support and fee-earner teams. By following our tips, you’ll be able to make sure all members of your team feel appreciated and create a more efficient and cohesive work environment that leads to a better culture and ultimately, commercial success.
Foster Open Communication
One of the main reasons the gap between legal support and fee-earner departments exists is due to a lack of communication. Fostering open communication allows both teams to understand each other’s roles and responsibilities and ensure that they are working together towards achieving the same goal. This can be done by holding joint team meetings, creating shared communication channels like Microsoft Teams or Slack, or organising regular training sessions for both teams to attend.
Have Regular Check-Ins
Effective communication is vital for a law firm’s success. It’s not only crucial for lawyers and legal support to have clear communication channels, but it’s also essential for management to maintain open communication with all employees, regardless of their position within the business. A solid feedback loop between leaders and staff members, where ideas are welcomed and opinions are heard, can help to ensure that every team member feels valued and respected.
Utilise Legal Tech Tools
Legal support is critical for the smooth functioning of legal processes today. Legal technology tools can automate administrative tasks such as data entry, document assembly, and task management. This approach frees up valuable time for fee-earning staff to focus on work that requires their legal expertise. What’s more, using technology in this way can also help legal support staff invest their time in more interesting activities that could yield greater value for both fee-earners and clients, instead of completing tasks that can be time-consuming or less enjoyable.
Invest in Employee Progression
The career ladder for a lawyer at most firms is fairly rigid and well-trodden, however, sometimes there aren’t as many opportunities for legal support staff to develop their expertise and progress within their roles. Firms that invest in a comprehensive progression structure for all departments and job titles will empower and encourage all team members to reach their full potential, but because everyone has equal opportunities to progress, will improve harmony between support staff and fee-earners.
Encourage the Sharing of Information
When both legal support and fee-earner teams understand each other’s work processes and expertise, they are able to perform better in their jobs. Cross-training and the sharing of information can help both lawyers and secretarial staff to develop a better understanding of tasks performed by each other and appreciate their role in the legal process. This approach can lead to more effective collaboration and foster better relationships between team members.
Host Cross-departmental Events
Building a collaborative culture is not limited to the office environment, but it should extend beyond that. Organising social events, training seminars, or CSR activities that include both lawyers and support staff can help foster and strengthen relationships among colleagues who do not usually interact with each other, such as fee-earners and secretarial staff.
It can be a difficult balance to make sure that both members of your legal support teams and your lawyers feel equally appreciated. However, there are steps you can take to instil harmony and ensure that all employees feel valued. By making the changes above, you’ll create a collaborative culture and a productive team in which both lawyers and support staff feel engaged and happy at work.