lost in collaboration?

Josh Adcock, editor, Briefing|Feature article - April 2022

Law firms may feel they’ve all but nailed it when it comes to enabling remote working, but are their people missing out on the ‘buzz’ of in-person collaboration and the strategic differentiation it can yield? Josh Adcock asks legal leaders how they’re navigating the maze of collaboration options, helping their people find their way to potential collaborators, and what ephemeral element – if any – is lacking from the process of working together in the hybrid world.

As the UK – and the world, in large parts – recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic and learns to live with the disease, so too have we all had to learn to live with new ways of working, and few aspects have been as challenging as wrapping our heads around the matter of collaboration. Something as instinctive as breathing when in the office together in person has had to be analysed and structured in ways not previously considered. Indeed, although ‘collaboration tech’ didn’t make it to the highest peak of Briefing Frontiers 2022’s axis of IT investment expectations – suggesting there’s high adoption among firms already – the sense that such tech only provides the underlying infrastructure, and that some level of in-person connectivity is lacking, hangs across the business landscape.  

Finding ways of fostering collaboration has definitely become a more important strategic priority for Charles Russell Speechlys, says Lesley O’Leary, chief operating officer at the firm – though there’s no quick fix. “We need to commit to collaboration and instil it in all our processes. You can’t just put a team together and say they’re going to ‘fix collaboration’ – it’s much bigger than that, it’s how we do things as a business.”

She explains the firm’s in-person collaboration has been supplemented with improved internal communications, both during and post-lockdown. “Our remote comms efforts have been very successful – anything virtual has been welcomed with open arms, and we can see people are really engaged with attempts to reach out and connect.”

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