Sustainable Leadership In Law Firms

Sustainable leadership in law firms is essential to the success and growth of leading law firms in today’s competitive arena. Charlène Gisèle has developed a unique Sustainable Leadership Coaching programme to serve top law firms’ leaders.
In the past, law firms consisted of two or three attorneys, a records clerk, and perhaps a secretary. Compared to today, law firms were close-knit groups of a handful of employees. Advance forward a few decades, and the field has changed dramatically. Most law firms today are comprised of:

  • HR teams and HR managers/directors
  • Inclusion and Diversity managers
  • Heads of learning and development
  • IT directors, paralegals
  • Law clerks
  • Accountants
  • Operations managers
  • Legal secretaries, proofreaders, trainers
  • Social media/marketing/PR teams
  • Chief Of Wellness
  • In-House Performance Coaches
To balance and manage all these departments, sustainable leadership in law firms is a must if the firm is to perform at both the business and employee levels. Those interested in sustainable leadership and how it can transform your business can book a ‘Strategy Call’ with me.
Differences Between Managing People and Sustainable Leadership
There are differences between managing people and sustainable leadership. Managing people does not always involve helping them feel good about their contributions and how they are developing their skills to a higher level.
We all know that managers (even in the field of law) can be overly critical, demanding, and without compassion for their employees and co-workers. According to the Association of Legal Administrators, the number one reason for business failure in law firms is poor leadership.
Sustainable leadership in law firms goes beyond managing people and involves:
  • Support and compassion. Law firm managers should treat their co-workers well while helping them understand their purpose by engaging with them on a personal level.
  • Recognition and gratitude. Co-workers and employees seek recognition for a job well done and deserve gratitude; they also appreciate knowing how their work supports the law firm’s value.
  • Demonstrating empathy. It is important for the law firm manager to listen to workers, but more importantly to understand them. Strong personal relationships are founded on empathy and promote teamwork productivity. Challenges, circumstances, and frustrations should be considered as strong leaders know their employees’ feelings and emotions are real – and that they are human.
  • Support a work-life balance lifestyle and the use of ‘intelligent breaks’. Burnout is a big issue in law firms. Many often work long hours over the weekends. Law firm leaders who provide flexibility and balance in the work schedule to recover from stressful bouts of work, and do their best to limit overtime work see significant improvements in their employees’ mental and physical health.

Top Traits of Sustainable Law Firm Leaders

With sustainable leadership in law firms, employees and co-workers do not feel they are being led at all; instead, they feel accomplished, valued, and are an important part of the team. Some of the most important traits of a sustainable law firm leader include:
  • Communication. Opportunities and issues relevant to the operation and strategy of the law firm should be clearly communicated and understood for it to be successful.
  • Adaptability. In a market that is growing and changing at almost warp speed amidst a global economy, healthy leadership in law firms requires the ability to quickly adapt.
  • The ability to make quick decisions. Law firm leaders must be able to evaluate benefits and risks quickly in order to make decisions regarding alternative solutions.
  • The ability to delegate. Achieving success in a law firm requires delegation based on talents and abilities, resulting in teams that are incredibly proficient. Not one person in the law firm can do everything; the best leaders know this.
  • Self-awareness. Effective leaders are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, fully comprehending their performance, how it impacts employees, what works, and what does not work. Self-awareness in the law firm leader is the basis of improvement.
Other traits often seen in sustainable law firm leaders include charisma, humility, experience as a leader, and honesty/integrity. Those who desire to learn more about how to create, and develop a culture of sustainable leadership in law firms are invited to schedule a ‘Strategy Call’ with me.

Sustainable Leadership and ESG

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) is becoming a very important issue. Large investors are now demanding more comprehensive disclosures on how companies are sustainably managing and developing the skills of their workforce. When the focus of ESG is directed to law firms, the Social and Governance aspects matter a lot. Sustainable leaders in law can improve their ESG performance by building a resilient, inclusive, and diverse workforce.
Aligning to an ESG framework can provide a competitive advantage as ESG Human Capital Management & Welfare demonstrates a firm’s commitment to building a high performing, purpose-driven workforce, and inclusive culture. Here are some of the benefits law firms can expect by investing in ESG-focused Human Capital Management:
  • Corporate Reputation: ESG can enhance a law firm’s license to operate, making it easier to accomplish business and key stakeholder objectives.
  • Enhanced customer and investor acquisition: ESG can address unserved or underserved customer bases and build strategic relationships to promote and address ESG issues.
  • Greater workforce productivity and organisational resilience: Integrating ESG builds a law firm’s intangible factors, such as culture, talent recruitment and retention, operational excellence, and risk management.
  • Open, inclusive, and innovative workforce: This expands the horizon of opportunities that can be seized, and a more diverse board/workforce leads to more informed and inclusive decisions.
I run ESG-aligned workshops that help cultivate and strengthen a firm-level culture of performance, productivity, and self-care. The workshops are innovative, unique, and transformative solutions to maximise the performance of your law firm’s sustainability. Book a Strategy Call with me today to see how ESG Sustainable Leadership can transform your law firm.

Managing Screen Time

Between laptop computers, Zoom meetings, cell phones, tablets, and other devices, it seems the law firm (along with the entire world) is constantly connected. There is little or no time to enjoy family, get away for the weekend, or just take time to yourself to decompress and rejuvenate.
Managing screen time should be a top priority in sustainable leadership. Not only do attorneys need time with family, friends, or just for much-needed rest, employees need time away from screens as well.
Sustainable leaders should encourage workers and fellow attorneys to take time away from electronic devices relevant to the workplace when at home. It is essential to good mental health.

Develop an Affinity for Technology

For some law firms, staying up with technological advances is hard. In fact, only 20% of law firms’ competitive intelligence is proactive rather than reactive, and strategic instead of tactical according to the American Bar Association. This means 80% of law firms’ competitive intelligence is reactive and tactical. In other words, old school. Some, but not all of this, may be attributed to technology. The sustainable leader should understand that technology changes constantly, and it is vital to keep up. Consider:
  • Mastering video conferencing, email, voice messaging systems, and other communications technology.
  • Mastering a wide range of presentation, word processing, time and billing, and other software applications relevant to your practice.
  • Developing skills with internet research and legal research software.
  • Familiarising yourself with document management software, computerised litigation support, and electronic discovery.
  • Mastering how to leverage technology to free up time for employees to rest and recover from stressful bouts of work.
Rapidly changing technology is where many law firms break down; sustainable leadership requires that managers and leaders stay on top of the latest changes and innovations in all aspects of their business.

Consider a Consultation with Law Firm Performance Coach Charlène Gisèle

Regardless of the size of your law firm, there are so many areas that directly impact its health and sustainability. Ultimately, law firms that do not have sustainable leaders will eventually fall by the wayside. Every person who works in the law firm is important to its function and goals; every person matters, and the way a manager leads has a “trickle-down” effect that either supports the success and growth of the firm or leads to its demise.
Book your ‘Strategy Call’ with me today and let’s explore how sustainable leadership can be maximised in your law firm.

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