Building Leadership Skills in Your Law Firm
- Posted by Lynn Sedgwick
- May 24, 2022
The last few years have been challenging for the legal sector. Dealing with the fall out of the pandemic, increased workload, and the impact of overworking on employees’ wellbeing means that many firms also now need to uplevel their leadership skills alongside recruiting new lawyers into their team to lead their firm moving forward.
In turbulent times, everyone looks to great leaders for guidance. Leadership resonates throughout a business, and the quality of your leadership can be the difference between your firm’s ultimate success or failure.
Good leaders exhibit specific traits which allow them to inspire, motivate, engage, and boost the productivity of their legal team.
Today’s post shares five key leadership skills for today’s legal workplace to develop in your team and those to look out for as you recruit.
The Ability to Set Goals Based on a Vision
Great leaders have a vision. All successful law firms were started because the founder had a vision of what they could create.
As you build your legal team at every level, remember that employees often join firms because of the vision and direction shared during the interview, as well as fair pay and conditions, and the opportunity to work with great clients. Unequivocally, elements such as this should be communicated as part of the hiring process.
Innovating and reacting to change is part of a law firm’s growth and is necessary for development. So, it’s vital to deploy your strategy to manage challenges while considering that you need a solid business plan that indicates where you are adjusting and setting relevant goals.
Effective legal leaders ensure everyone is on board with the strategic plan and its ultimate objective – alignment across the firm will be key to success.
Greater leaders can tap into team creativity, developing a sense of purpose that develops an inspired team.
Setting goals in a S.M.A.R.T. way can also increase performance – specific objectives that are challenging yet achievable are more likely to inspire your team and give them something to work towards collaboratively.
Clear Communication Skills
Part of sharing the vision is the ability to communicate both authentically and with authority.
Law firm leaders must develop the ability to communicate with people at every level, from a stressed-out client to every member of their wider legal team.
Effective leaders must be able to express ideas and information to the people they want to lead.
Successful communication also involves clarity of message, which happens when leaders ditch the jargon and listen to what is important to their team.
As human beings, before we mentally agree to follow someone, we need to feel listened to by our leaders.
It is easy to assume that everyone in the legal profession has good judgement alongside the ability to make decisions. This occurs as lawyers handle complex caseloads, though not always when addressing challenges in the team or performance managing a difficult employee.
Lawyers are generally confident individuals by nature. However, making decisions in a team setting isn’t always as black and white as it might first appear, as highlighted by Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize-winning professor who developed prospect theory which shifted opinions on decision making.
To make a good decision, you need to understand how different choices change the likelihood of various outcomes and how desirable each of those outcomes is. In other words, decision making requires both prediction and judgment.
Focus on listening and gathering data from your team as you would for any case you are handling, and you will notice how your decision-making ability improves.
Create a Learning and Development Culture
Here at Clayton Legal, we often ask candidates applying for roles whether the law firm hiring has a development culture and one where the team is encouraged to grow and develop. A stronger leader will make this part of the plan for their firm.
With advancements in digital platforms, online learning is easy to implement alongside more formal events in your firm.
Create a training program for your law firm’s team that allows them to engage at their own pace and with topics that interest them personally. These topics should be largely focused on the team member’s speciality and what your firm needs from them, but it’s also valuable to offer the opportunity to learn about areas outside of their speciality.
Being accountable for both actions and results is the hallmark of a great legal recruit. This is even more vital when we consider the approach of our legal leaders.
Leadership accountability in your law firm is an essential component of a healthy culture. But what is an accountable leader, and how do they drive business results?
Being accountable suggests that leaders are ultimately responsible for outputs, which is true.
There are multiple layers of accountability, including business performance, company culture, client experience, and the legal workforce itself.
For leaders to be accountable, they need to be committed to the business and its people. They must take their role as people leaders seriously, building trust among team members. Accountable leaders clearly communicate their goals and objectives to their teams to foster alignment and team focus. They accept responsibility when things go wrong and give credit for success where it’s due.
The legal sector experienced increased growth last year. Many firms are looking for new legal leaders and hires for their teams. This is where Clayton Legal can help. For a conversation about your legal talent growth plan, do not hesitate to contact one of our team.
About Clayton Legal
Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability during that time. We have made over 5,000 placements from Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal I.T. personnel to Practice Managers.
If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.