Like any other law firm managers responding to the new realities in the business industry, you want to make continuous improvement in your business. This involves not just the right knowledge about legal practice management, but also developing dynamic systems within your company that can readily respond to the evolving landscape.
As a legal practitioner, learning the What, Why, and How To’s behind building a culture of agility helps spur growth. Below are law practice management tips from a legal systems expert and founder of the entrepreneurial attorney nation, who is in the business of transforming small law firms into thriving practices.
What is Business Agility?
You probably heard the old adage that the only thing constant is change. Although this seems to be the case given the recent events in the legal industry, in businesses, owners like you can also rely on your people. Whether law office management runs as usual or your staff is working remotely, you need teamwork to get things going. But as for your legal team, what can they depend on?
The answer can be summed up in a word: systems. Systems are organized ways of doing things that help any business respond to challenges. Your internal stakeholders should be able to depend on systems running in your law practice. But in order for systems to work and produce business value, you need to prioritize both systems development and business agility.
Having business agility or an agile team means being able to quickly adapt to changes in the market. How agile your employees are impacts on how efficiently they work together. Lawyers leading their solo firms who developed a culture of agility have highly agile employees working on teams that are interdependent. These teams are also able to produce agile methods (flexible systems) to address their clients’ lifecycle.
When your law firm teams are adopting these qualities, then you can say that you have built an agile process within your business.
Why Focus on a Culture of Agility?
But in consideration of the current demands you are facing, why should attorneys give priority to nurturing a nimble environment in their small law firms?
First, having business agility allows for a smoother legal management process. Any changes made in one team can be easily supported by the other groups. Being flexible also allows you to implement new systems faster to grow your business.
Second, if you emphasize the importance of being change-responsive, you avoid facing panicking members when disruptions occur. Instead, when adversity comes, your whole team focuses on how they can respond to customers in a way that is aligned with your organization’s mission, vision, and target outcomes. Your teams respond better to your customers when they can understand the whole process and have the law firm’s goals in mind.
Third, having a flexible culture supports your business systems. It does so by cushioning the impact of potential disruptions. Instead of your system crumbling in the face of change, your team members respond and adapt to sustain the system. For instance, with most competitors shifting to a remote working setup, having an agile company allows your firm to think about how to respond to this change while still keeping your methodology and producing your deliverables.
How to Develop Agile Teams
As the head attorney and leader of your own firm, how can you develop an environment that will foster this important business culture? You can do so by developing the right kind of mindset among your project teams.
A Shift Towards An Agile Mindset
Transforming the company’s culture starts with your people’s mindset. Too often, employees who are at the bottom of a company’s hierarchical structure feels that he or she has no say in company decisions. This leads to less interest to collaborate with team members or address business needs.
Below are some of the ways to develop agile principles within your law firm employees:
- Train your team to look out and expect changes. Disruptions happen not only within your firm but also in the local economy. When a new issue is faced, be open to hearing the opinion of each member. You may ask the following questions: How should we respond to this issue? What are our options? Which is the best solution that will bring customer satisfaction? What are the risks that we’ll be facing?
- Encourage your workers to be client-centric. By doing so, they get to understand the needs of your target consumers which helps them see the value of your task and project requirements. If you have plenty of employees and do not have time to supervise each one closely, deploy leaders to manage your groups but make sure that the teams work together flawlessly instead of independently.
- Empower employees to speak their minds. Your legal firm is not a one-man team. Let your team feel entitled to express their ideas or build on another one’s business insight. This fosters team collaboration and dependence on each other. You also get a more intuitive and inclusive set of options prior to making business decisions. This can be done by simply setting a regular time for a standup meeting or a group huddle to discuss a particular issue faced by your law firm, which can happen via video conferencing or physical gatherings.
- Personalize training for your employees. One of the mistakes often made by start-ups and small businesses is to roll out several training sessions for the whole company without first assessing the baseline ability of each individual. Each of your workers doesn’t start at the same level. Spend time assessing their strengths and witnesses and create individualized paths that would lead to an incremental increase in skills. When a disciplined player functions optimally, group outputs become more efficient and your whole company also runs in optimal condition. In turn, your process becomes more streamlined and backlogs are avoided.
- Educate your team on what’s happening outside. This involves knowing what events affect your business which aids you in choosing how to respond.
Having a business culture of flexibility and empowered attorneys and staff helps you see through a problem from different angles. The end result is a process improvement in your law practice that is an important step towards growth. Although developing an agile team and agile methodologies requires owners of a small law firm like you to invest time in building such a team culture, it will all be worth it once you see your firm transformed into a thriving practice.
If you want to hear more about developing systems for your law practice, we can help you. Our seven-step system for designing and implementing automated marketing systems can help grow your business and have resulted in phenomenal growth among our clients. Give us a call at 888-375-2573 or schedule an appointment with our law firm consultant Richard James.