Team Meetings and Communication for Law Firms
Managing a Small Law Firm
5 min read
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Your law firm depends on effective communication. Most law firm team members do not work in a silo. They need to know what other people are doing to perform their work well. As the team’s manager, you also need to know what people are accomplishing and if they need help or support.
In this chapter, we’ll break down best practices for keeping everyone on the team on the same page.
Meetings sometimes get a bad rap. Understandably so. They often feel unnecessary or a waste of time. Conducted the right way and in the right cadence, though, they become the backbone of your team’s work.
Meetings serve to ?distribute information or discuss problems and create solutions. Let’s explore how this could look for your law firm team. Then, decide whether the topics warrant a traditional meeting or a written update, who should be involved, and how often.
If you decide to conduct a traditional meeting, make it effective. To ensure your team meetings are productive, follow these best practices:
Your law firm team must have an effective way to communicate outside of regular meetings. To serve your clients, you must have a way to talk about your cases. Often, projects to improve the business involve more than one person. Email is the default for many firms. But, the problem with email is that it is often ineffective and scattershot. It also leads to tons of distractions throughout the day.
Luckily, many firms embrace all the functions of Microsoft Teams, including the chat feature that mirrors a tool like Slack. Being able to group communication by topic and thread-specific conversations is often more effective than email.
Be aware of how disruptive distractions can be. Research from UC Irvine shows that it can take 25 minutes to refocus on your task after being interrupted. You can attempt to manage this by thinking about when your team should communicate. For example, are there set times throughout the day when it would be appropriate to ping people with questions? Could you set an all-team “work block” every morning where everyone establishes focus time?
We often hear lawyers worry that somehow team members will perceive communications with them as micromanaging. Don’t allow this fear to keep you from good communication. Micromanaging is when you take over the roles and responsibilities you assign to your team. Communication conveys needed information to understand the status of the team member’s work and if and where they could use help.
Finally, don’t be afraid to use different communication tools. In Chapter 4, we’ll discuss project management tools. These systems allow team members to “notify” you about assigned task updates as work progresses through the system. This can be invaluable for the manager trying to manage the team’s work.