In discussing the word retool, it was clear that there were many opportunities to rethink law firm operational structures. While this concept could have endured a much longer discussion, in our brief 20 minutes, we thought about reshaping functions and new skills that have become critical in our future workplaces.
Both the Human Resources function and the Business Development & Marketing functions were noted as having experienced a shift during the pandemic. The HR function held an essential role during the crisis – going forward, training, recruiting, on-boarding and wellness were identified as areas that need an increased focus. This will necessitate some thoughtful redesign of certain roles, likely expanding current skillsets. On the BD & Marketing sides, the entire process has shifted and some roles, such as events, are no longer in demand. How law firms market themselves in the future may be a great departure from the past; new thinking around this function will help law firms stay the course and remain competitive.
I am certain that other departments in law firm operations have had similar experiences during the crisis.
I introduced the program with an emphasis on professional development training. Caroline and I identified areas, based on our prior sessions, where training or best practices were necessary. We suggested training on managing and working remotely, managing key relationships in a remote environment, creating cohesiveness in a remote environment, building an engaged workforce in a remote environment, empathy training and ongoing technology training with standards for proficiency.
In addition to the suggestions above, other required skills that were identified from our brainstorming session for the future workplace included: efficiency skills such as six sigma training, communication skills including too much/too little, incorporating the lessons learned by working from home into our future workforce, incorporating advanced technology to work more efficiently, delegation skills and collaboration across function/outsourcing work internally.
We understood there may be roles that were no longer perceived as essential and that we should look at capabilities beyond the role that was served. In addition, retention is important so the workplace must be mindful that employees feel there are growth opportunities for them. And last but not least, the reshaped workplace must retain the spirit of community and belonging, despite having different walls.
Thank you for Thinking Out Loud with us.
All feedback is welcome!
–Bea Seravello, Partner and Co-Head, NewLaw Practice