We recently found an interesting article from the Tech Fest Conference ‘The Four Collaboration Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Today’. In this article we have highlighted the points we found most telling and tailored it to the collaboration mistakes law firms are making.
With so many collaboration tools out there, it is important for law firms to choose the right tool to align with their goals. However, they cannot expect collaboration to simply just happen once they have selected a tool. We explore some of the collaboration mistakes your firm might be making that inhibits the potential to achieve your collaboration goals and make the most of your collaborative tool.
Mistake #1) Using technology to initiate collaboration
One of the biggest mistakes law firms make is using technology to initiate collaboration, before there is already a culture in the firm to encourage lawyers and other employees to collaborate. For a collaborative tool to be advantageous it should enhance collaboration as well as making it easier by minimising geographical distances, and bringing ideas together.
Furthermore, this collaboration culture doesn’t just need to be internal; it can be external with clients too. For example, we have found firms report that their clients want a portal where they can access all information about their matter in one place. If firm’s have this underlying demand already, then it is an appropriate starting point to initiate collaboration. Collaborative tools can provide one centralised space to present up to date information from different systems, keeping everyone (including the client) working on the matter informed with the same data, no matter where they are.
The need to collaborate will lay the way for a successful collaboration tool. Therefore, a firm should already be encouraging their employees to work together, and share ideas internally and externally before implementing any tool.
Mistake #2) Assigning the responsibility of collaboration to one person or department
Another mistake is forgetting that collaboration needs to be a team effort, and assigning the responsibility to one person or department is setting it up for failure.
Law firms should be encouraging everyone working on a matter to collaborate; if only one department is being encouraged to collaborate then others may think it’s not their job. Whilst those assigned to the role of collaboration may only collaborate with others assigned to this role, preventing collaboration on a wider scale. With an increase of mobile working, and law firms opening up offices across the country and the globe, it has become necessary for lawyers in different geographical locations to collaborate, but firms must be encouraging all employees to collaborate for enhanced communications and for a collaboration tool to be a success.
Mistake #3) Not involving key players in collaboration
Collaboration needs to be a team effort; it should be led by key players in the firm to encourage others. Partners need to lead the way in collaboration, if they do not recognise the benefits collaborating and collaboration tools bring, then the project will be at risk of failing. The task should not be left to CIOs or IT Directors, because if there is not support for the collaboration project from lawyers and other employee’s direct manager, then it is likely to sink and fail. Partners should encourage lawyers and other key players who are working on a matter to utilise the tool.
Mistake #4) Making collaboration compulsory
Collaboration should not be compulsory; you cannot force lawyers to use a collaborative tool, they need to see the clear benefits it will bring. For example, if a client has requested a portal that presents all information about their matter as part of the deal then this is a clear benefit. It’s beneficial as not only has helped win the client, but also improves the relationship with the client because they can access up to date information about their case whenever they want, which increases trust. In addition, another benefit for law firms is the ease of employees collaborating, sharing resources and ideas no matter where they are geographically. Users can give feedback, and deadlines can be marked clearly, laying out benefits like these will help to show how a collaborative tool will help lawyers personally as well as the law firm as a whole.
Mistake #5) Not organising collaboration
If collaboration is not organised it can lead to a lack of success. Clearly defined goals and what problems you are trying to solve should be coordinated before deciding to use a collaboration tool. However, if you create a clear implementation plan, which involves organising appropriate training, defining what the firm’s goals are and how you will achieve them. If this is organised properly and made clear to everyone at the firm, then the tool will be a success and inspire collaborative work.
Therefore the things to keep in mind to make your firm’s collaboration tool a success are; already having a company practice encouraging collaboration. Furthermore, firms should not assign the role of collaboration to one person or department; it needs to be a team effort with those at the top leading the way, as well as other key players encouraging it. There needs to be a happy medium so that collaboration is not compulsory but also make sure that employees are organised and supported.