The typical primary law firm delivers 1.8 practices to each of their major clients. The best performers, those who collaborate and set the standard for superior client service, deliver 3.2 practices to their clients.
The law firms with strong collaborators get more business while keeping competitors out of their client base. The truly great collaborators live by these 7 rules:
1. Believe Something Good Will Come Out Of It
Great collaborators believe they will benefit in the end. They will admit they may not know exactly how—but they believe. Their belief serves as one of the linchpins of working together. Over time, the best collaborators know their work will result in more business, happier clients and a more successful career path. As a beginner, you have to believe until you see the benefits for yourself.
2. Trust Collaboration To Drive Individual Success
While collaboration means driving success for many, this process drives individual success as well. You are part of the team and share in the team's success. But, you also drive success for yourself as you teach the process to others and build business for your firm. You will be looked to for leadership and increasing responsibility as you develop the skill to collaborate in more challenging and difficult environments.
3. Know Others Will Not Play Nicely… And Collaborate Anyway
Someone will take advantage of you. Somewhere along the way you will find yourself contributing more and picking up someone else’s slack. Just move on. Collaborate over them and around them to ensure the overall effort succeeds. Those who misuse the process tend to self-destruct or find themselves excluded over time. The best performers know this about human nature and won’t let it stop their own success. Yes, you are being taken advantage of—yes, you will reap the rewards if you work around or through it. You receive no benefit if the collaboration stops.
4. Collaboration Is An Active Behavior
You behave your way into collaboration. Collaboration demands your intention to work with others in a coordinated manner. Inertia will beat anyone waiting for collaboration to happen. It won’t happen until you make it happen. Learn to reach out, share, plan, divide, and conquer.
5. Collaboration Takes Practice And Specific Skills
The more you collaborate the better you become at collaborating. You learn how others respond to your behaviors. You also learn how you respond to other's behaviors. This is why teams who work together for a long time perform so well. They know what to expect of each other and all know how to improve their performance. This, and the financial rewards, are the reasons to start honing your collaboration skills today—if you haven’t already.
6. Collaboration Demands A Common Goal Or Outcome
A common goal drives people to work together. Multiple goals or lack of goals drives chaos. Collaboration demands everyone know, understand, and see the benefit in the common goal—and believe in the goal. This translates into planning and communication. No communication = no collaboration.
7. Collaboration Is A Honed Process—Know The Playbook
Great collaboration is designed, planned, and implemented. You will make changes as you go, but the plan for the inevitable change is in place. The best performers know what to do when they encounter the unexpected. The bigger your clients become the more unexpected events come up. You will learn to embrace these moments as opportunities to shine if you know you have others who know how to work with you as clients demand more—as they always will.
50% of top legal decision makers see lack of collaboration as their primary law firm’s biggest weakness—and is the primary reason they limit the work they give to these firms. Every law firm can start to hone their collaboration skills—all you have to do is embrace Rule 1 above and keep believing until the rewards are yours.