Us Lawyers - We're Different, Aren't We? Or Are We?
For over 25 years I've been in the law - but not only in the law. It gives me what I call "an outsider's inside view" if that makes sense.
I see the challenges that you face without being embroiled in them, so can take more of an objective, helicopter view - and bring an additional insight and perspective.
Other than your technical expertise, the challenges of leading and managing people are similar to other businesses but with a couple of crucially important differences - something which many non-lawyers don't quite understand.
"Impressed with the flair and professionalism with which you delivered the training"
"Many thanks for your help in delivering the Management Development Programme, which was vital in our recent history as an organisation.
We were all impressed with the flair and professionalism with which you delivered the training. It is especially difficult to train lawyers (as you well know) - especially if they are in argumentative mood(!).
The MDP has been well received and worth the investment. We will try to maintain the standards and approach you have introduced."
Learning and Development - Lead
within a branch of Civil Service
The Highest of Standards
We have such high standards when it comes to ethics and the professional service we deliver - and many non-lawyers don't understand that. We really can't 'duck and dive' like so many other businesses - a dented reputation can do long-lasting business damage.
That brings a challenge in leading a team of lawyers. We are paid to be professional; to express and justify our opinions and come up with creative solutions to knotty issues. We are not trained to do as we're told!
Yet that conflicts with the deeply hierarchical legal system - the higher up the chain, the more deference is due and the less one expects to hear 'No' from down the chain of command.
When I worked in a particularly badly managed Consultancy within one of Scotland's large banks, my ideas and drive towards higher standards felt very unwelcome. I had moved back home to Scotland and given up a role managing a bigger team of lawyers than I was working in.
My manager was more comfortable with systems and research than with managing people. One day he gave me an article on managing HME's, thinking that would help. A conversation may have been better!
I was the 12th consecutive lawyer to 'head up the Escape Committee'! My manager remarked that 'you lawyers are so disloyal'...
High Maintenance Employees (HMEs)
It was my first exposure to this concept and it wasn't pretty!
It's very easy to write off a team member because they seem to be demanding - but there may not be a big difference between their obstructiveness and your limitations!
Getting the best out of your high performers takes a bit more thought and it might feel easier for you to 'keep them in line' rather than manage them for high - not low - performance.
Their questions might feel constantly unhelpful - so the temptation is to stop listening. Then they have to question even more. It can take up some of your time to get it right - and waste a lot more when you get it wrong.
Are they needing more of a team role or fewer interruptions?
Do they need more directing or more freedom?
Is their incentive to compete or collaborate?
A Demanding Profession
The hours are usually long and the rewards usually good. Burnout is a big issue though.
Not just from workload and keeping up-to-date with never-ending developments in the law. There's the challenge of bringing in more business and leading a team.
Sometimes seemingly super-confident legal eagles suffer a loss of confidence. When this happens in a high-performance, demanding environment someone's perceived weakness can create serious worries.
Will their work quantity and quality suffer?
Can a reputation once questioned ever be fully re-captured?
If you mention it, will they welcome the support - or feel the need to hide any potential concerns and struggle through?
HOW CAN I HELP YOU?
There are SO many ways I'd love to help.
As I understand the Mindset and Skillset challenges lawyers face, I feel well-placed to deliver the right help and support for you and your team.
1-2-1 for senior leaders and aspiring partners
A confidential sounding board.
A risk-free place to express new ideas and work through inner fears. Discuss climbing the career ladder or moving to a new firm - or new career...
Develop your 'Presence' - confidence, influence and gravitas - your Leadership and Business Development.
Working through those uncomfortable 'people challenges' - whether management, leadership or peers. Or clients.
for leaders and fee earners
Regular group sessions to discuss new ideas and business/people development.
A facilitator for 'away-day' business and team development
CIPD Skills Refreshers for
Fee Earners and trainees
Leadership and Management
Arguing/Debating/Thinking On Your Feet